Views of the 5G future: Connecting cities, changing communities

“If things were to go down, we could spin up drones with 5G and very quickly be able to get a network that we could use to talk to not only emergency services, but also our citizens if they're in need of help.”

Nicole Raimundo, CIO of Cary, North Carolina

These views of tomorrow are based on conversations with industry leaders at the forefront of creating the 5G future, as shared in iHeart Radio’s This Time Tomorrow podcast sponsored by T-Mobile for Business.

View 1: 5G and the connected city

Supporting and keeping our fellow neighbors safe has always been one of the primary roles played by our communities. Technological advances through greater connectivity have expanded civic abilities to respond faster and more efficiently to problems. With the increased capacity of 5G, this connectivity will increase dramatically, ushering in a new era of response and disaster prevention for communities around the globe.

Nicole Raimundo, chief information officer of Cary, North Carolina, is utilizing the latest advancements in technology to make her town one of the most connected cities in America. According to Raimundo, 5G-powered Internet of Things (IoT) devices will drive quality of life improvements for all. Take one case: flooding.

“We have a sensor that warns us of a potential flooding; that sensor then triggers a work order for our utilities staff to investigate,” says Raimundo. “They investigate it, that triggers another case into our public works staff to respond. Which then triggers both our 311 and 911, where they’re going to get updates.”

This can then automatically reroute traffic, notify police and fire departments, and more. When everything with an on/off switch is connected through the power of 5G networks, municipalities and citizens can work better together. 

View 2: Fighting fire with 5G

People tend to think of fires as wood burning, but today’s modern businesses are made of a highly variable mix of materials, including plastics, composites, and other petroleum-based products. Many of these are flammable and, if burned, produce highly poisonous fumes. This increased danger is what keeps Harold Schapelhouman, chief of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, constantly on the lookout for potential improvements for his firefighters. And 5G has the potential to assist firefighters and enhance their senses through thermal imaging and augmented reality.

According to Schapelhouman, dense smoke makes it very difficult to see when inside a burning building. So his department has been working with a company called Qwake to develop and test a new firefighting tool named C-Thru. This tool, once mounted to a helmet or mask, could provide hands-free vision into the heart of the fire, allowing firefighters to see both heat levels and traverse the dangerous environment. Being able to share this data to the team via high-capacity, low-latency 5G networks could make these tools all the more powerful.

“5G to me is a bigger pipe,” says Schapelhouman. “And that bigger pipe allows me to get data and other information I could have never gotten before. By having that bigger pipe, you could... merge all these different technologies together and have all of that in a face piece or within a helmet, or a combination of both—so that we truly move firefighting into the next century.”

Want to hear more about the connected future of 5G? Listen to “Connecting Cities, Changing Communities,” part of iHeart Radio’s This Time Tomorrow podcast sponsored by T-Mobile for Business.

Want even more trends, insights, and success stories?