Robert Franks, our Managing Director, outlines how 5G trials and solutions will be crucial in the future rollout of smart cities, where technology is used to address urban challenges.

Cities are in their own right, real-time systems made up of several moving parts. A ‘Smart City’ is a city that uses technology enabled solutions across a variety of sectors to address key urban challenges. A big part of the technology in Smart Cities is the use of an intelligent network of connected objects and machines that transmit data using wireless technology, such as 5G.

Right now, there are great opportunities in the West Midlands and the rest of the UK to develop live solutions using 5G technology in order to make sure that are Smart Cities are safe and successful.

With an estimated global infrastructure investment of £25 trillion required over the next 20 years to ensure sustainable urban futures, there’s a huge need for a service or set of services where smart city technology can make a genuine and measurable difference to the city experience.

In transport, taking a look at three of the largest and most successful cities in the UK in the form of Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry – they, like many others, suffer from congestion, pollution and lack of investment in road infrastructure that hasn’t kept pace with the rate of urbanisation.

Enabling 5G trials and solutions can make a real impact in moving forward. Whether it’s traffic management through sensors collecting images and sent to a real-time traffic management centre, or social distancing to encourage people safely back on public transport; there’s a whole range of outcomes to get cities moving and enable them to be more productive.

This is why, in partnership with 5PRING and Local Authorities across the West Midlands, we have launched our ‘Smart Cities’ challenge. The challenge provides the opportunity for businesses in the region to test, trial and apply 5G Smart Cities solutions in a live testbed environment. The trials will form a large part of the 5G learnings and deployment in the region.

Successful applicants will be working with experts from local authorities including Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry, Dudley, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Sandwell, Walsall, Warwickshire and Wolverhampton.

Through the programme, organisations can harness the power of a 5G private network to create cutting-edge Smart City solutions, with challenge areas in health and social care, public services, public safety, social and events and transport and pollution. The challenge will see a range of participants explore 5G-enabled technology such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and edge computing.

The world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050, meaning around 7 billion people will be living in cities. With this growth in population comes a large appetite for Smart Cities, with its citizens at the heart of the solutions.

Through this partnership with 5PRING and the West Midland’s local authorities, we will truly be able to understand the potential that 5G has to revolutionise our future cities, and we look forward to sharing future findings.