Illustration: Sarah Grillo, Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Experts say 5G phone networks will jump-start the smart cities movement — which deploys tech to try to make communities more sustainable and efficient — by tying together traffic, energy, communications, waste disposal, and many other municipal systems.

Why it matters: Smart-city ideas haven't transformed into reality yet for most Americans, but if government and industry get this right, cities could reduce traffic, cut carbon emissions, protect neighborhoods and save money.

How the industry sees it: Wireless providers are touting 5G's high speeds and low latency (delay) as giving the networks an opportunity to knit together elements of urban infrastructure that can't currently connect with one another.

Traffic light reprogramming is one example cited by Sameer Sharma, Intel's general manager for smart cities:

  • Most cities take years to change intersection timings to match changes in traffic patterns.
  • They may have traffic cameras monitoring flow and control systems that could be updated much more often, but no way for the systems to talk to each other.
  • 5G could glue them together and make possible a kind of dynamic traffic control that speeds drivers on their way and helps improve air quality.

Pilot projects have explored novel uses:

  • In San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, providers worked with the city to test a power-saving system that switched streetlights on and off depending on the presence of traffic.
  • In Portland, Ore., a test rollout of multisensor light poles allows the city to monitor traffic on key corridors to improve safety. The system analyzes images and then discards them, alleviating concerns over privacy and surveillance.

How cities see it: Leaders and policy experts are excited by 5G's potential to improve city services but worry about cost, transitional problems, and fairness.

  • New infrastructure is expensive, and cities need confidence that the systems they install today won't be obsolete (or broken) before the next election.

Go deeper: The race to become "smart cities"

Go deeper

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Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

A number of prominent Republican lawmakers addressed President Trump's refusal on Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November's presidential election.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted, "The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792."

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Context: Many of those writers, working with new technology companies like Substack, TinyLetter, Lede, or Ghost, have made the transition amid the pandemic.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 31,926,175 — Total deaths: 977,357 — Total recoveries: 22,004,598Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m ET: 6,935,556 — Total deaths: 201,920 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
  3. Health: The coronavirus is surging again — Johnson & Johnson begins large phase 3 trial — The FDA plans to toughen standards.
  4. Politics: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tests positive for coronavirus — Poll says 51% of Republicans trust Trump on coronavirus more than the CDC.
  5. Technology: The tech solutions of 2020 may be sapping our resolve to beat the coronavirus
  6. Sports: Here's what college basketball will look like this season.

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