Greenville, South Carolina, is slated to become the world's first "smart city" according to a press release issued by Sprint on January 8, 2019. Sprint plans to build a "5G enabled Curiosity™ IoT infrastructure and ecosystem" that will connect Greenville to Sprint's "blazing-fast" network and propel the city in the future. The plan includes:
For Sprint, curiosity is "a powerful catalyst" for change, allowing the mind to think outside the bounds of the norm. Sprint shares on their website why they named the network Curiosity™ IoT: "Our curiosity drove us to ask, 'what if we brought network intelligence, AI and algorithms to the edge of our network?' Acting on this question we built our latest innovation: the first dedicated, fully virtualized and distributed core IoT network and integrated operating system. So it was only natural that we named it Curiosity™ IoT."
The Internet is best known as the World Wide Web or www dot the world is your oyster. With the press of a button, humankind has access to all kinds of information and nearly unhindered communication with people around the globe. As technology gets "smarter," it is morphing beyond the scope of information and communication between people. Technology can now communicate with things, not just people to things, but also things to things. The Internet is evolving into an advanced network where devices can interact with other devices: This is the Internet of Things or IoT. Jason Morgan writes in Forbes, "Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig….if it has an on and off switch then chances are it can be a part of the IoT."
Curiosity, they say, killed the cat. It seems it will do just the opposite for Greenville. Below are some projected benefits for the city. First, Greenville will have a share in the projected 3 million new jobs and $500 billion in economic growth. Second, the cutting edge technology will attract more state-of-the-art businesses to Greenville, including digital start-ups and companies involved in research and development in artificial intelligence, automation, and robotics. Mayor Knox White has taken a proactive role in bringing 5G to Greenville in conjunction with the "Smart Greenville" team. He shared, "We’ve been meeting with telecom providers for some time about how Greenville might 'move up' the list for 5G deployment. Sprint has an active and innovative program and answered our call! "The immediate goal," White says, "would be [to] bring early benefits of 5G to certain sections of our city — making downtown, for example, even more desirable for doing business. So you can see how this might give us a competitive edge in recruitment." Finally, there is another important market that will be affected by the technological advancements in Greenville, South Carolina: real estate.
- A 5G Enabled Network
- Micropositioning Technology
- A Connected City Center
- Edge Computing
- And more
What Does This All Mean?Tech-savvy consumers and those who keep up with the latest "smart" technology may need no explanation of what it means to be the world's first "smart city." The rest of us, on the other hand, may need a little enlightening. So we will break down some of these technical terms into simple, bite-sized pieces. Later, we will discuss the impact the technology will have on the world, Greenville as a city, and on the Greenville real estate market. So what exactly is a 5G enabled Curiosity™ IoT infrastructure and ecosystem, micro positioning technology, a connected city center, and edge computing? I'm glad you asked. When it comes to "smart cities" there are no "dumb questions." I was asking the same questions myself. Let's start by defining some terms.
5G Enabled Network
When wireless Internet technology first hit the cellphone scene, it relied on a 3G network. The system was slow, but it allowed users to have access to the Internet via their mobile devices. However, as life got faster, the amount of data people needed to access remotely also increased. The solution was the next generation in wireless technology: 4G and 4G LTE were born to keep up with the pace. 5G is the upcoming next generation of the cellphone data transfer network. Sprint estimates that 5G will be 100X faster than the latest 4G technology. However, there are two components necessary to employ the benefits of the system: infrastructure and device. A device that is capable of 5G speeds will not benefit the user unless there is a 5G infrastructure available where the wireless connection is needed. And this infrastructure is exactly what Sprint is proposing to bring to Greenville, South Carolina: a 5G enabled network.
IoT (Internet of Things)
Infrastructure and EcosystemAs mentioned previously, there are two essential components necessary to upgrade technology: the device and the infrastructure. And so it is with the Internet of Things. Before devices can communicate at 5G speeds, there needs to be an infrastructure in place that allows for the high-speed data to flow through the city. Plus, that infrastructure needs to work alongside the broader wireless ecosystem that allows 5G communication to occur at all. Sprint plans to bring this technology to Greenville, South Carolina, first.
Additional Components of Sprint's PlanThe above provides a general picture of the plan for Greenville in conjunction with Sprint's Curiosity™ network. However, there are a few additional components in the project.
- Micropositioning Technology: Sprint's 5G network for Greenville includes micropositioning technology that enables communication between vehicles, unmanned drones, and smart machines so they can navigate and react in real time in designated areas in the city. This technology could mean better mapping services, streamlined traffic control, and improved parking.
- A Connected City Center: The "smart city" center is connected wirelessly to the 5G network with the capacity to connect the IoT through micropositioning technology developed by the W8less Corp., according to Douglas Webster of the Smart Greenville team.
- Edge Computing: Edge computing is the next step in the evolution of data storage and retrieval. Once upon a time, mainframes stored and computed data, then we had personal computers where we could safely store our information, presently we use "the cloud" to store large amounts of personal and business data. Edge computing brings "the cloud" to Greenville. Having the data storage facility nearby increases data retrieval speeds.
5G Could be Like Seeing Color for The First TimeAccording to Sprint, who is merging with T-Mobile in 2019, "5G could create up to 3 million new jobs and $500 billion in economic growth." Marcelo Claure, CEO of Sprint has high expectations for the smart move to 5G. He writes, "...imagine how 5G will revolutionize everything in our lives. Speeds 100 times faster than today, driverless cars, incredibly smart robots and smart city technologies will be powered by an always-connected 5G network."
Additionally, the upgrade is expected to bring lower prices and better cellular connection worldwide. "And only our new company is equipped to deliver a faster, more reliable network at lower prices and with better value. Sprint and T-Mobile have good network coverage on their own, but together we will deliver an amazing and seamless experience in busy city areas, rural towns and everywhere in between." Claure also believes the 5G network will spark a wave of creativity in the marketplace. "We will create the best nationwide mobile 5G network and fuel a giant wave of innovation and disruption throughout the entire marketplace. This step up to 5G will be like the step up from black and white TV to color TV. It’s a game-changer!"
There are other players in the field besides Sprint that are working behind the scenes to see that Greenville gets "smart." A primary driver of this technology is the Smart Greenville team, whose efforts attracted Sprint to Greenville in the first place.
Team member Douglas Webster hopes to see the 5G infrastructure up and running in Greenville as early as March or April of 2019.