Why 5G is crucial for the smart city of tomorrow

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Adria Tomaszewski

Blazing network speeds and low latencies can help improve the functionality of entire cities.

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5G is poised to have a massive impact on how we live, work, learn and play. But the potential of 5G doesn’t stop at the front door of our homes, schools or workplaces.

The blazing speeds and low network latencies brought by 5G can enhance the functionality of entire cities. Whether it’s helping fight traffic congestion, improving the ways cities monitor and manage vital services, or enabling autonomous mobility, 5G will become an ever more critical tool in cities’ arsenals. Pairing Verizon’s industry-leading network with ever-smarter data analytics tools and computing speed, communities will be empowered to drive efficiencies, spur economic growth and, most importantly, improve quality of life for their residents.

Why smart cities, and why now?

From population growth to resource management, communities face daunting challenges to their livability standards; resiliency in the face of rapid development and environmental calamities; and ecological sustainability. With an estimated three million people moving into U.S. cities every week, the strain on resources, infrastructure, energy and shared space is all too real.

Americans spend over eight billion hours a year stuck in traffic, and a car that idles an hour per day emits 10 pounds of carbon dioxide in a week. Verizon has already laid smart-city groundwork with our Intelligent Traffic Management solutions, which help move people and vehicles more safely and efficiently. Using in-ground sensors and micro-radar to reduce drivers’ stops and alleviate gridlock, these solutions have become trusted, invaluable tools in cities across the U.S.

“The data helps city managers and planners better understand how to provide facilities for the citizens, which will then improve or reduce commute times and CO2 emissions,” explains David Tucker, Verizon product director for traffic management/data services. “It’s all about making it easier to commute within your cities. That's why we're in this—to help improve our citizens’ lives.”

The potential impact of 5G on cities

By 2025, the global market for smart-city services—from healthcare to transportation to energy security—is estimated to reach $2.57 trillion, and those investments will largely hinge on network providers’ ability to relay massive amounts of data among connected devices and systems in near-real time.


“A lot of cities are really looking for that new innovation … [We] pull together the best of Verizon in a holistic fashion.”

Lani Ingram, Vice President, Smart Communities at Verizon

A fully functional smart city requires gigabits-per-second throughputs and single-millisecond latencies. The pre-commercial 5G trials we conducted in 11 U.S. cities in 2017 demonstrated 5G’s ability to deliver that level of performance.

“A lot of cities are really looking for that new innovation,” says Lani Ingram, vice president of Smart Communities at Verizon. “I think what we offer from a core infrastructure really enables a lot of that. It pulls together the best of Verizon in a holistic fashion.”

Envisioning the 5G-enabled smart city

Cities that tap into the power of 5G connectivity—like Sacramento, which will be one of the first 5G cities—are better equipped to drive improvements in public safety (smart street lights, remote security monitoring), transit (intelligent rail, smart parking), utilities (water treatment and management), public Wi-Fi access and emergency preparedness.

“Sacramento has positioned itself as a leader in technology and innovation investment,” notes Ingram. Of our Sacramento partnership, she adds: “This proposal not only underscores the city’s commitment to putting its citizens first, but to providing them with the tools, engagement opportunities and innovation to drive digital equality and quality-of-life improvements.”

More communities are set to follow suit, and they’ll find their own ways of preparing their communities and citizens for a future that rides on 5G. These cities will develop digital payment processes for public services such as tolls and parking, innovate around ambulance dispatch services, and attract investors and businesses that value the convenience and reliability of supportive, robust 5G infrastructure.

Ultimately, municipalities will become active agents in their own maintenance and upkeep, allowing them to become more efficient and more responsive to the needs of their citizens. 

Bottom line: Better information leads to better resource allocation, which in turn leads to safer, more sustainable places. With Verizon’s 5G network, the smart cities of tomorrow are already coming into view. 

Learn more about Verizon’s plans for bringing 5G technology to our customers


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