In the year 1950, only 30% of the world population lived in cities. In 2014, it was reported that 54% of the population have migrated to urban areas. Flash forward to 2050, the U.N estimates that two-thirds of the population will have shifted to city life. The shift from rural to urban living will mean that smart cities will be essential for supporting the rise of population.

Building out connectivity with 5G capabilities is crucial to ensure the future of smart cities. The Ericsson Mobility Report expects the first commercial 5G networks to go live in late 2018, with the first compatible smartphones available in 2019. 5G networks will be ten times faster than 4G, and will serve as a more reliable platform for new technologies. This will improve many smart city capabilities, which will use mobile networks to transmit data, as well as augmented reality and other data-heavy technology.

In a city connected by 5G, there will be improved safety solutions. Firefighters will be able to use connected drones as they fight rapidly moving wildfires by accessing the information they need in near real-time from a camera-equipped drone. The incorporation of IoT to street lighting could help cities monitor traffic and road conditions, helping cities to manage repairs, road closures and maintenance needs to keep roads safer.

The infrastructure of smart cities will allow connected vehicles to communicate with their surroundings. AT&T VP of Product Development Cameron Coursey states, “5G will ensure faster and more efficient exchange of this data, enabling these automated vehicles to distribute and receive data, and function even better.”