About 90 million people in 185 countries around the world use Waze, the crowd-sourced navigation app that helps drivers quickly get from point A to point B while avoiding potholes, traffic jams and, yes, police. The app collects data from users and pushes relevant information to drivers, virtually in real time, wherever they might be. It is the kind of modern miracle we take for granted in today’s hyper-connected world, but we shouldn’t. When we talk about IoT, the edge of the network, machine learning and AI, we are talking about Waze and its ilk. The future is now.
And it’s not just Waze. Interesting AI applications are cropping up around the globe. From smart irrigation controllers that detect water leaks and help reduce water consumption in drought-stricken environments to innovative, IT-enabled lampposts that double as data intelligence networks to improve transportation, traffic and personal safety — these types of technology revolutions are happening all around us. We’ve just come to accept it all, starting with the supercomputers we hold in the palms of our hands.
Some areas are reacting to these advancements faster than others. For example, some Australian cities, including Adelaide and Canberra, already are developing the critical network edge infrastructure needed to support next-generation citizen services and boost the economy. Industry analysts anticipate by 2020, 50% of global companies will personalize individual experience via biometric data. The advent of 5G is imminent, and 5G along with hybrid IT will enable and accelerate all of these innovative technologies.
Hybrid IT, integrated systems, edge computing and similar approaches to pushing compute resources as close as possible to the end user are driving all sorts of new business models, services, innovation and applications, and creating a new level of personal experience. All of this is enabled by the IT resources at the edge and the plethora of new mobile devices — even smarter phones, tablets, wearables, connected devices, smarter cars/transportation, etc. — and it all is fundamentally reliant upon and enabled by the digital network.
Smart cities require tens of thousands to hundreds of millions (or more) of sensors — probably on the order of 5 to 10:1 per person — to be deployed in numerous configurations to provide meaningful and actionable data in real time. This includes highway, pedestrian, air, water, sound, vibration, temperature, pressure and countless additional data points from sensors and cameras all around us, including underground, on and in water, and overhead.
These sensors and the billions of connected devices require a resilient digital communications network that is available 24/7, self-healing to a degree, with commercial, industrial, government and first responder private networks, some of which will be in restricted-use frequencies to further ensure access and availability in times of emergency.
4G and especially 4G LTE helped launch this new digital landscape. 5G will launch us to the next level where we can truly deploy the smart city concept and all the benefits it entails. Sacramento, Calif., San Francisco, New York City and Columbus, Ohio, are among the forward-thinking cities in the U.S. that are developing and deploying smart services, as well as laying the foundation for future digital capabilities via networks and infrastructure. There are others, and more still to follow as the 5G rollout continues.
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