Sep 22, 2020 - Technology

FCC: 5G could eventually help cities predict and prevent wildfires

Jessica Rosenworcel, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission

Axios' Erica Pandey, (left) with Jessica Rosenworcel (right), Federal Communications Commissioner. Photo: Axios.

Jessica Rosenworcel, a Federal Communications Commissioner, said Tuesday that she hopes smart cities and 5G could eventually predict and ensure the safety of its residents, even from natural disasters like wildfires.

What she's saying: "Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we knew those kind of things well in advance, if we had a predictive ability that exceeds what we have today because we are looking at patterns at a scale that previously we haven’t been able to do? I think that those things are real and they are not so in the far-off future," she told Axios' Erica Pandey at a virtual event.

Why it matters: Much of the FCC's work involves overseeing the country's use of broadband, 5G development, satellite, cable and other technologies in both the public and private sectors.

  • 5G is the next generation of broadband, Rosenworcel said, that boost cities' internet speed and incorporate technology into infrastructure.

The state of play: Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the five-member commission, cited several instances that smart-city technology could help solve problems for Americans' every day lives:

  • Health: Sensors installed to monitor environmental qualities could collect data on long-term air quality, the prevalence of asthma and frequently traveled routes.
  • Commute: "If we can find ways to make sure our traffic lights talk to one another and then talk to our cars and talk to our vehicles, and reduce our commute times, I think we really will improve quality of life for a lot of people who go to work every day," she said.
  • Agriculture: Technology could also help farmers understand how to best use chemicals, fertilizer and water without waste and damage to the environment for better yields, she said.

Watch the event, Axios' Smart Main Street, on

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