5G network (jamesteohart/Shutterstock.com)

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

5G’s transformational power for local communities

Over the next few years, 5G is projected to become the primary communications network within cities around the country. 5G will enable communications 20 times faster than today’s 4G connectivity, revolutionizing mobile networks and helping local governments better support their constituents.

This technology will change the daily lives of communities and generate a wealth of opportunities for improvements in public safety, transportation, online government services and more. For example, with 5G, a 911 dispatcher can quickly pinpoint a caller’s location within a few feet. Law enforcement can leverage the network to combat crime and gain better situational awareness as they respond to incidents. Richer and real-time transit data can decrease the number of fatalities on our roads and improve traffic flow.

So what does the connected everything revolution mean for government IT leaders?

Getting started

The next-gen 5G network is not merely an evolution of 4G -- it requires massive transformation.

Many local governments are challenged with developing a data architecture that can support the increased volume of data, as well as the many different incoming data types such as video and audio content. 5G advantages won’t be realized by building proprietary, vertically integrated networks like those for 4G. A foundation for 5G data interactions will  require a modern and flexible data infrastructure including virtualization, both hypervisors and containers, open networking and storage.

And it’s not just the infrastructure. Transformation through 5G will only be as successful as the workforce that takes advantage of it. Such a workforce should be skilled in more than just mobile networking and be organized to integrate DevOps to create new applications that take advantage of high-speed mobile data. Shifting to 5G will require operational excellence to integrate domain knowledge, data science and computer science skill sets.

The foundational shift to 5G must also happen in conjunction with a security transformation. Networking and security are evolving in tandem, and 5G supports that evolution, integrating security natively into all services and processes, rather than as an overlay.

Point products, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems will give way to data-driven, automated security frameworks that leverage the underlying programmable infrastructure for visibility, detection and enforcement.

Balancing workforce, IT and security transformation will put cities a step closer to realizing the full benefits of 5G and continue to improve constituent experience.

Digital equity with 5G

5G offers the ability to deploy high-speed connectivity in places where we can’t today, closing the digital divide.

As cities install the 5G backbone, they should also consider how the technology can create a more equitable community. The City of San Jose, for example, is building out its 5G network while ensuring that its deployment focuses on digital inclusion for all communities.

Chicago recently announced a partnership with non-profits G3ict and World Enabled to ensure all residents are included as the city builds out digital offerings. The city’s Department of Innovation and Technology  and 81 public libraries have already made considerable progress expanding technology access by making more than 3,000 computers available to the public, improving Wi-Fi access at city facilities and letting residents borrow portable mobile hotspots.

It’s important to remember that the 5G transformation will not be an overnight or simple upgrade, but a gradual architectural evolution. The journey to 5G comes with its own set of challenges, but it brings opportunities that will set leading communities apart and pave a path to more efficient and transformational government services. It’s time to reimagine what’s possible and continue to progress upon what local governments can offer to their constituents.

About the Author

Rob Silverberg is CTO of digital communities at Dell Technologies.

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