KNect365 highlighted five European cities for having the potential to transform transport through the use of 5G
Super-fast internet speeds grab the headlines when it comes to the potential of 5G - but it also promises to revolutionise urban transport as we know it.
As the technology’s global roll-out draws closer - most experts predict it will arrive sometime next year - cities around the world are readying themselves for the market-changing innovations it will enable like connected vehicles and smart parking.
In its report Smart Mobility Meets 5G: The Cities Ready for Next-Gen Connectivity, US professional services firm KNect365 highlighted five European cities and their potential 5G use cases.
We profile how each city plans to make the most of the technology.
Cities preparing for 5G transport innovations
With the population set to increase by 5.9% over the next decade and congestion levels due to rise at a commensurate rate, city officials have started examining ways in which they can improve mobility across London.
One answer has been provided by telecoms giant Vodafone, which has conducted multiple tests for 5G in the UK capital and is hoping to launch a commercial service using the technology before the start of 2020.
In areas such as Stratford, the company has implemented smart parking, which serves as a sensor-based vehicle detection system that provides available parking space information in real time to nearby drivers.
Meanwhile, London’s transport authority Transport for London (TfL) manages 20 million ticket “taps” per day, tracks the movement of 9,200 buses and records information from more than 6,000 traffic signals and 1,400 cameras.
Both smart parking and TfL’s data tracking stand to benefit from 5G, which offers faster network speeds and minimised latency, allowing for more efficient and reliable services.
Barcelona plays host to a 5G trial facility where the EU-sponsored initiative 5GCAR will be tested until May 2019, off the back of 8m euros (£6.8m) in funding from the bloc.
Led by mobile network operator Ericsson, 5GCAR seeks to use 5G to improve urban mobility in various European countries, and combines multiple organisations dedicated to that end including telecoms Orange and Nokia, as well as Swedish automaker Volvo.
The consortium’s primary goal is to create a framework for 5G that will enable technologies like connected vehicles by 2020.
Barcelona has also invested in smart parking, connected traffic systems and solar-powered bus shelters, and should only benefit from further investment interest if 5GCAR proves a success.
In 2018, Ericsson and mobile phone firm Telia launched a 5G pilot network in conjunction with the Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech).
It has since been open to vendors and researchers looking to test 5G services, and will reportedly use its network speed and low latency to support TalTech’s upcoming self-driving car.
The city has already established smart programmes that allow citizens to use electronic IDs in order to access transport information and pay for various things such as parking fees - 90% of which are now processed through the system.
The service stands to be faster, however, as it can suffer from delays of up to 30 seconds, and it will need to be able to cope with the projected rise in capacity as Tallinn’s population grows. Both challenges can be met with 5G.
Amsterdam’s Smart City initiative comprises multiple transport-based systems, from electric vehicle power backup system Vehicle2Grid to its ride-sharing and carpooling platform, known as Toogethr.
It is also home to a project seeking to use electric vehicles for freight transport, which, if successful, could make the city zero-carbon by 2025.
As these initiatives progress, Dutch telecom KPN will launch five 5G labs across the Netherlands, including one in the capital’s Zuidoost district.
Mobile phone network T-Mobile, which is also working on rolling out 5G in the country, believes the technology will enable autonomous vehicles and efficient data collection from smart vehicles, smart cameras and connected street lights.
In addition to its work in London, Vodafone is working with Milan officials and 28 other partners together using 90m euros (£77m) in funding to implement 5G, which is ready for a commercial roll-out in 80% of the city.
Milan already has the Open Wi-Fi scheme that comprises free wireless connectivity and full fibre-optic coverage, which has established a foundation for smart transport.
It is home to more than 125 smart parking bays, 60 electric vehicle charging points and an e-bike sharing system that includes 150 bikes.
Most of this infrastructure falls under the city’s umbrella initiative, known as the Electric City Mover scheme, which stands to be vastly improved by the arrival of 5G.