Connecting A Future Of Smart Cities With 5G

Smart cities have long teased the promise of a more connected, high-tech world. The vision is one of driverless electric vehicles smoothly navigating the streets, while responsive lamp posts cast the perfect light on spotless urban environments maintained by smart connected waste management. Thanks to the emergence of 5G technology, that once-distant dream might be closer than some of us think.

5G is an enabling technology which will provide the essential backbone of future smart city environments. This next-generation mobile network technology promises high-speed, low-latency and high-density connectivity that stitches our cities together like a digital tapestry.

While much of the discussion on 5G is fixated on the speed of connection, the benefits of a connected modern landscape come as much from the increased reliability that these networks will bring to urban environments across the globe.

Naza Communications Sdn Bhd (NCSB), an integrated telecommunications infrastructure provider and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Naza Group, is working to unlock this potential with valuable use cases through partnerships and key infrastructure projects, beginning with the KL Metropolis, a 75.5-acre mixed development by the Group’s property arm Naza TTDI, which is equivalent to the size of 300 football pitches.

We can already see some of the remarkable benefits that smart cities are delivering in locations around the world. A 2019 review reveals that Barcelona, a pioneering smart city, saved over 40 million euros in water costs, generated an additional 36.5 million euros in smart car parking revenue, and created up to 47,000 jobs[1]. These are just some of the early widespread value that smart city applications can potentially unlock.

Unlocking opportunity for Malaysia

It seems obvious that reliable connectivity is at the heart of our future smart cities. Nobody wants a network that allows seamless communication at a certain location, only to fade into the background once they cross an invisible border. To fully realise the benefits of 5G and smart city applications, it is essential to build a trustworthy platform for both people and organisations.  

The Malaysian Government’s establishment of Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) as a special purpose vehicle to develop and manage 5G infrastructure is an encouraging step, but it will need to be supported by strategic partnerships with the private sector to channel the resources apt to effectively deliver on a capital-intensive yet comprehensive 5G rollout.

Designing an effective smart city requires strong data aggregation infrastructure and analytics fundamentals, backed by a robust, ’99.999% uptime’ network. Seamless partnership is vital in delivering on that promise.

Alongside the infrastructure, smart city use-cases must continue to develop. Proof-of-concepts and showcases will demonstrate the benefits of 5G smart-city applications and the opportunities these applications can enable for citizens and organisations.

Naza Communications believes that 5G networks, supported by its critical physical infrastructure such as strategically located smart lamp poles, will create new opportunities for smart cities. Facilitating connectivity with appropriate placement of network nodes on ‘street furniture’ is key to establishing reliable, ubiquitous smart city operations.

These 5G infrastructure elements can be equipped with electric vehicle (EV) charging ports to support the EV ecosystem, wireless phone charging stations for undisrupted connectivity, CCTV cameras for a safer urban environment, and digital advertising space for businesses and organisations.  This will also complement Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (CV2X) technology to improve road safety, optimise traffic, and facilitate operation of autonomous vehicles. As 5G technology continues to evolve, CV2X technology will be able to leverage on the enhancement of mobile broadband, which enables smooth ultra-reliable low-latency communication and massive-scale machine-to-machine communication. At this point, the 5G system is continuously being engineered to support between 10ms latency (end-to-end) and 1ms over-the-air for ultra-reliable low latency communications.

Vehicles installed with CV2X chipsets will be able to communicate seamlessly with nodes on 5G smart poles, connected devices, and other smart vehicles across the urban landscape for a truly integrated smart city opportunity. This will propel our nation forward towards the wider benefits of a 5G urban ecosystem which incorporates the full ecosystem of vehicle-to-vehicle communication, vehicle-to-roadside infrastructure, and vehicle-to-pedestrian communication.

The possibilities are endless with the usage of smart poles at Naza TTDI’s KL Metropolis development. Representing Naza TTDI’s first integrated smart city development, KL Metropolis is a pioneering example of how 5G connectivity can create safer, more efficient urban environments across the country.

It’s essential to ensure that this connected infrastructure is developed in a modular fashion that enables upgrades and enhancement without compromising daily operations.

Naza Communications is dedicated to continuing evolution in this technology by exploring new use cases that could present exciting future benefits for business and society. That means a commitment to delivering use-case pilots that demonstrate the potential of 5G enabled by partnerships with all relevant industry stakeholders to showcase the limitless opportunities that lie ahead of us.

This concept of partnership is fundamental to realising the greatest potential of connected smart cities. A truly transformative smart city cannot operate in siloes with different providers or implementations competing for priority. Naza Communications aspires to become an enabling aggregator that can work to connect local authorities, developers, industries, and citizens across Malaysia. Only through open and honest partnerships can the true potential of smart cities be delivered, and unlock the value of connected urban environments in the Malaysia of tomorrow.

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