A new study by Accenture Strategy predicts that transitioning America’s wireless networks from 4G to 5G could yield an increase of 3 million new jobs to the economy, along with roughly $500 billion added to the gross domestic product through direct and indirect investments. The report, Smart Cities: How 5G Can Help Municipalities Become Vibrant Smart Cities, estimates a seven year investment of $275 billion nationwide from network operators, which could create 350,000 new construction jobs, and 850,000 other jobs associated with network expansion. More broadly, the study suggests an additional 2.2 million jobs will be created via the network effects of greater expansion.
“The report findings show what an incredible opportunity there is in local economies,” said Tejas Rao, managing director and Mobile Offering Network lead for Accenture’s North America practice. “5G-powered smart city solutions applied to the management of vehicle traffic and electrical grids alone could produce an estimate of $160 billion in benefits and savings for local communities and their residents. These 5G attributes will enable cities to reduce commute times, improve public safety and generate significant smart-grid efficiencies.”
Sanjay Dhar, managing director in Accenture’s North American Strategy practice, added, “Full realization of the economic growth and cost savings will depend on how robustly 5G networks are deployed locally, and will require different approaches in local communities from those used in the past.”
As the report’s authors note, “While the deployment of 5G wireless networks will bring near-term economic benefits, it will also help to ensure that U.S. communities remain competitive over the longer term by allowing them to fully leverage Smart City technology, and ensuring the latest wireless communications technology is available to citizens and businesses.”
The study predicts outcomes of investment in smart city technology and 5G networks over the next few years, and describes potential improvements for three crucial sectors within cities that will benefit from wireless innovation: transportation, public safety, and energy.
Transportation: Wireless technology can bring benefits to communities such as ongoing data reporting, better parking systems, and improved traffic routing. Such benefits can help improve public transportation and speed up road maintenance, which will reduce traffic congestion by 40%.
Public Safety: Smart technology in this realm is already making significant changes. Up to 50% of gun related crimes have been reduced in San Francisco neighborhoods because of real-time wireless sensors that can detect the location of gun fires.
Energy & Utilities: Smart lighting systems alone are estimated to save the U.S. over $1 billion per year. According to the report, automatic dimming of street lighting when pedestrians and vehicles are not present can save power and energy costs. 5G connections will enable cities to plan more efficient infrastructure planning and create cost savings.
Existing 4G networks created the potential for more efficient commuting options, cheaper energy use solutions, and safer communities. 5G can make these practices a reality in more areas. In order to achieve fully developed smart cities, however, processes to deploy 5G infrastructure should be streamlined and quick to initiate.
In short, the main take away from the study is simple: as local areas upgrade their infrastructure and integrate smart technology into their community, reliable 5G connectivity will allow smart cities to flourish and to foster continued innovation and progression for public resources.