On April 22, people around the world are celebrate Earth Day and many of us are reflecting on what we can do to protect the environment. Resource conservation and sustainability are challenges facing communities across the globe. As we work together to find solutions to safeguard our planet for future generations, the next generation of wireless technology can play a significant role.
Communities are already employing smart cities applications, powered by wireless connections, to address environmental challenges. Smart street lighting can dim when no one is present, reducing power usage and light pollution. According to a recent Accenture report, smart street lighting alone could save $1 billion a year across the United States. Smart trash cans transmit when they are full, increasing collection efficiency, which means fewer trash trucks idling and polluting on city streets. Connected air quality monitoring systems can measure pollutants and particulates in localized areas, helping target clean-up efforts.
The connected sensors on these Internet of Things are enabling a whole host of energy and cost savings with the potential for even greater gains as technology continues to evolve. Smart traffic management will increase road vehicle capacity and smart parking systems will give drivers real time information about where to find that empty spot, rather than circling the block another time. Connecting more energy consuming devices into smart energy grids will help predict and manage demand – benefits that Accenture found could add up to as much as $2 trillion in savings over 20 years.
The next generation of wireless connectivity will help us fully realize the promise of these efficiency improvements. 5G’s higher speeds, low lag times, long battery life and the ability to place a small cell nearly anywhere will allow for real time responses to every day events like congestion, waste management, energy supply and more. 5G will make its own contribution to energy savings, thanks to efficiencies over previous generations of technology.
Expanding the use of Internet of Things applications that can enhance environmental quality is just one of many good reasons to accelerate the deployment of 5G networks. Next generation networks will be a boon for local economies, in addition to the positive economic impact of sustainability applications. Reaping those benefits depends on having the right policies in place. 5G networks will rely on thousands of densely deployed small cells not contemplated by current siting policies. We need to work together on reforms that facilitate the roll out of 5G infrastructure, enabling connectivity that can support responsible environmental stewardship.
The next evolution of wireless can help boost our efforts to protect our environment – a green and mobile future for the entire planet.