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Brandon Branham, assistant city manager and chief technology officer of Peachtree Corners, said 5G opens the door for low-latency use cases.
Intelligent transportation and public safety will likely be the first public sector applications to make use of 5G, according to a city executive at Peachtree Corners, Georgia’s tech-forward city that is home to the Curiosity Lab 5G incubator.
Brandon Branham, the city’s assistant city manager and chief technology officer, said in an email that the “low-latency capabilities” of 5G mean it can connect infrastructure to vehicles and enable them to communicate, enhancing safety for all road users and reducing congestion.
So far, Peachtree Corners has piloted several 5G applications, including a fully automated pedestrian crossing and signal preemption for autonomous vehicles. 5G can also help public safety officials take advantage of drones, by streaming video processed at the edge using artificial intelligence. Banham said being able to quickly access and analyze the detailed data from the city’s 5G network helps the city make “long-term decisions in our planning efforts.”
Some, including those in government, have expressed frustration at the perceived slowness of 5G rollout in the United States, which Banham put down to the lack of availability of 5G-capable equipment and devices, but he said that is “rapidly changing” as more become available.
And during an event hosted by Route Fifty earlier this month, he said it is important for governments and their constituents to be properly educated on what 5G is, what it is capable of and some of the challenges rollouts can face.
“It takes time to build and shift into these new markets,” Banham said. “Knowing that, communicating that to the projects and the constituents and having an understanding of why there’s been a little bit of frustration around 5G. There’s a lot of hype, I’ve found. But we’re at that stage where in the next year, we will start to see the true application of it come forward.”
During the Route Fifty event, John Avery, director at the Atlanta-based technology business incubator Advanced Technology Development Center, said pilot programs are a good way to test 5G’s capabilities, even if they do not become permanent.
“It does happen quite often that things languish in that pilot phase and don’t move forward, but it’s not always a bad thing when that happens,” he said. “Sometimes that’s what these are made for so … more money isn’t spent on something that doesn’t have what it needs to be successful.”
In an email, Banham called on governments to “think outside the box” on how they leverage 5G and to partner with the private sector to do so, especially in areas that they wish they had more data and analytics for but lack connectivity options. Using 5G, Banham said, “opens the ability to deploy sensors and other IoT devices that require high bandwidth.”
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