Sep 22, 2018

Smart-city tech sees a jumpstart from 5G

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

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 932,605 — Total deaths: 46,809 — Total recoveries: 193,177Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 213,372 — Total deaths: 4,757 — Total recoveries: 8,474Map.
  3. Business updates: Very small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus job crisis.
  4. World update: Spain’s confirmed cases surpassed 100,000, and the nation saw its biggest daily death toll so far. More than 500 people were reported dead within the last 24 hours in the U.K., per Johns Hopkins.
  5. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania are the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders — Michigan has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, an increase of 1,200 and 78 new deaths in 24 hours.
  6. Stock market updates: Stocks closed more than 4% lower on Wednesday, continuing a volatile stretch for the stock market amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Spain's health care system overloaded

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Two planes with protective equipment arrived to restock Spain’s overloaded public health system on Wednesday as confirmed cases surpassed 100,000 and the nation saw its biggest death toll so far, Reuters reports.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 900,000 and the global death toll surpassed 45,000 early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy has reported more than 12,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

FBI sees record number of gun background checks amid coronavirus

Guns on display at a store in Manassas, Va. Photo: Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu Agency via Getty

The FBI processed a record 3.7 million gun background checks in March — more than any month previously reported, according to the agency's latest data.

Driving the news: The spike's timing suggests it may be driven at least in part by the coronavirus.