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

Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Harvard and MIT sue Trump administration over rule barring foreign students from online classes

A Harvard Law School graduate on campus before attending an online graduation ceremony on May 28. Photo: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Harvard and MIT on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to block federal guidance that would largely bar foreign college students from taking classes if their universities move classes entirely online in the fall.

The big picture: Colleges, which often rely heavily on tuition from international students, face a unique challenge to safely get students back to class during the coronavirus pandemic. Some elite institutions, like Harvard, have already made the decision to go virtual.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 11,856,991 — Total deaths: 544,871 — Total recoveries — 6,473,170Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 2,996,333 — Total deaths: 131,481 — Total recoveries: 936,476 — Total tested: 36,878,106Map.
  3. Public health: Deaths are rising in hotspots — Déjà vu sets in as testing issues rise and PPE dwindles.
  4. Travel: How the pandemic changed mobility habits, by state.
  5. 🎧Podcast: A misinformation "infodemic" is here.

Facebook auditors say it's failing on civil rights

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The findings from a new civil rights audit commissioned and released by Facebook show that the tech giant repeatedly failed to address issues of hatred, bigotry and manipulation on its platform.

Why it matters: The report comes as Facebook confronts a growing advertiser boycott and criticism for prioritizing freedom of speech over limiting misinformation and protecting users targeted by hate speech.