How Will 5G Upgrade Smart Cities Around the World?

Posted On 09 Jun 2021
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By Emily Newton

Job opportunities and resource accessibility bring more residents into urban regions every year. As global cities grow, we must evaluate the sustainability and efficiency of their practices. On his first day in office, President Biden signed the U.S. onto the Paris Agreement, signifying our greenhouse gas emission reduction commitment.

Smart cities optimize the eco-consciousness and low environmental impact of urban residents. With the recent development of 5G networks, cities will be much more efficient. Advanced technology and communication can help urban areas decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase ecological conservation.

The Possibility of Connecting

5G is a highly efficient network, quickly connecting various machines, devices, and systems at once. High-speed data sharing and real-time accessibility are essential to multiple safety and environmental aspects of cities.

Connected urban areas use the Internet of Things (IoT), collecting instant information and evaluating different demand patterns. Cities can respond quickly with low-cost, sustainable solutions. The residential and commercial sectors both benefit from 5G’s high-speed connections and cost-efficiency.

IoT optimizes urban sustainability, targeting economic, social, and environmental system functionality. Improving communication channels can help devices collect the necessary data for energy and resource conservation.

Energy Distribution

Autonomous energy tracking and maintenance can ensure power conservation, limiting unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. Smart systems can anonymously evaluate an urban apartment building’s power use and patterns. The city can use this data to alter power production, conserving resources.

5G technology can also perform power system repairs. Companies can use autonomous devices like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones for routine inspections and problem identification. Professionals can control the devices from anywhere, saving the amount of gas it would take to drive on-site.

UAVs can provide sustainable inspections and maintenance to residential and commercial energy systems when powered with renewable energy. Cities can also install mandated smart electricity meters.

Energy tracking devices provide urban officials with the necessary data to conserve energy and funds. The Empire State Building recently installed a smart energy meter, measuring the electricity use of 100 tenants. The data received allowed property managers to reduce their energy use by 38% and save $4.4 million annually.

Streamline Trash Collection

Cities have a long-standing history of waste management struggles. Today, garbage issues are less prevalent, and greenhouse gas emissions are a more significant concern. Garbage trucks are some of the highest polluting vehicles on the road.

Diesel-powered trucks emit nearly 20 times the greenhouse gases of the average American home. They receive an average of 3 miles per gallon and burn about $42,000 in fuel annually. Environmental engineers developed a method of pollution reduction using 5G smart technology.

A sensor technology called SmartBINs detects trash levels within a can or dumpster. When they are full, they send a signal to local waste management companies who collect the garbage. Developing an as-needed trash pickup system reduces excess emissions.

SmartBINs also reduce the amount of traffic on city streets, removing slow-moving vehicles. The device attaches to any bin and automatically connects to a 5G network. Each sensor comes preconfigured, ready for waste management optimization.

The data collected from smart sensors also provide each city with valuable information regarding consumption and waste patterns.

Water Protection

Similar to autonomous energy devices, smart technology conducts city water sensing and maintenance. Water distribution companies developed robots that travel within pipes, detecting leaks and potential interference. Leak detection sensors can relay information quickly to autonomous devices or professionals who can fix issues and conserve water.

The robotic systems are essential to city water conservation. Americans lose up to 50% of their water supply due to leaks and other preventable issues. As cities grow and the demand for water increases, professionals must optimize their supply by practicing sustainability and conservation.

Smart cities can also use 5G-reliant water monitors, collecting real-time data. Remote sensing devices track the supply’s pollutant and contaminant levels. The collected information can help treatment facilities optimize the efficiency of their filtration approaches and protect urban residents’ health.

Traffic Decongestion

High-traffic cities generate an atmospheric pollution problem caused by idling. Between 1.6% and 2% of all American carbon dioxide emissions derive from vehicles that are running but not in motion. Smart traffic management can help urban regions reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve sustainability.

Sensors connected to the 5G network relay real-time data, helping officials redirect traffic and prevent idling. Some sophisticated traffic devices can automate street flow, connecting to signals. When the system detects inefficient vehicle movement, it can adjust traffic light responses, reducing the number of cars waiting at a red light.

There are 300,000 streetlights in NYC, and connecting all of them through IoT is impossible with 4G. Fortunately, 5G generates enough connections to maximize stoplight data and increase traffic efficiency in real-time.

When accidents occur, the autonomous systems may also close down lanes and reroute vehicles, helping first responders reach the scene. This measure ensures all other drivers are safe.

Efficiency and Protection

The 5G network improves a city’s efficiency, increasing the speed of data collection and transmission. 4G networks give our mobile devices speeds of 30 megabits per second (Mbps), and 5G can reach up to 1,000 Mbps. We must install system protection features within smart devices and technology, ensuring the safety of our data and maximum efficiency.

One efficiency degradation factor is electromagnetic interference (EMI). Fortunately, scientists developed EMI shielding, reducing connectivity roadblocks. Companies use the shield to reduce data blocking and prevent future barriers. An installed screen absorbs the EMI and sends it to a ground connection. With protection measures in place, 5G smart devices can ensure a city’s safety.

Improved City Safety

The Briefcam is an urban surveillance device that connects to the 5G network for optimal city safety. The system uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify specific articles of clothing or facial features around the city. It can help police officials locate missing children or criminals in the area.

Its high-resolution cameras relay real-time footage to the network. Briefcam also tracks vehicles and license plate numbers. The tracking abilities can additionally aid emergency officials in reaching accidents quickly and safely.


5G devices hold sustainable potential for global cities. As smart city technology hits the market, we must practice adaptability for the greater good of humanity’s health and the planet. You can talk to your local city officials about transitional resources and helping individuals find support during changing times.

Emily Newton is a journalist with over four years covering the environmental sector. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she also covers the many ways technology is changing our world.

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