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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 Axios.com.

Go deeper

5G rollout advances despite pandemic, but hazards loom

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Coronavirus-related economic disruption and uncertainty could yet slow the pace of 5G deployment in the U.S. — but for now, the major carriers say they're moving full speed ahead.

Why it matters: The pandemic has highlighted the importance of connectivity as businesses shift to remote work and schools move classes online, making network performance more vital than ever.

Team Trump's 5G misfires

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios


The Trump administration, eager to win the 5G race and outflank China's Huawei, has run one plan after another up the flagpole — but found it hard to keep any of them flying.

Driving the news: White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow aired a new approach Tuesday to speed the emergence of U.S.-led alternatives to Huawei. Attorney General William Barr dismissed the same idea Thursday as "pie in the sky."

Starbucks drops worker vaccine mandate after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks announced in a memo to employees Tuesday that it has dropped plans to implement a vaccine mandate for all U.S. workers, AP reported on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.