IFSEC 2019

How 5G will make cities smarter, safer and more secure

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Assistant editor, IFSEC Global

July 30, 2019

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5G wireless networks could have a transformative effect on fire safety systems, the success rate of hospital operations and our ability to predict natural disasters, a security expert has said.

Speaking in the Future of Security Theatre powered by Tavcom at IFSEC 2019, Richard Broom, senior technical tutor at Tavcom, said higher cell density, higher spectral efficiency and a broader frequency spectrum supercharged the performance of 5G.

3G, he said, has a data rate of 384 Kbps and a download speed time of one day, while 4G has a data rate of 100 Kbps and a download speed time of seven minutes. 5G dramatically improves those numbers, he said, with a data rate of 1-10 Gbps and a download speed time of 4-40 seconds.

5G will make communications more efficient: “Forming an active antenna, we can start sending signals to the consumer wherever they are,” Bloom said.

The rollout of 5G networks across the world will help city planners realise visions of smart, connected cities. However, Western governments are grappling with a trade-off between cost and perceived security risks with Chinese Telecoms giant Huawei already blacklisted by the US government.

Broom, who previously worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and later ran a security installation firm, said 5G would herald the wider and more effective deployment of the following technologies:

  • Smart fire alarms and fire detection systems
  • Smart utility metering for smart buildings
  • Smart building water usage
  • Smart tracking or bike sharing
  • Smart food sensors
  • Smart bus signal signs
  • Smart exit signs
  • Smart water monitoring for commercial farms
  • Smart street lighting and smart parking

He also foresaw new capabilities in outer-space communications, predicting natural disasters, communications during natural disasters and autonomous irrigation for soil-health monitoring. 5G’s low latency also means that medical robots used in operating theatres will work more quickly and accurately, improving the success rate of operations.

Powered by Moore’s Law, the processing power of computer chips has soared and they’re now being used for biotechnology applications. More than 4,000 Swedish citizens are having a microchip implanted in their hand, for instance, to verify their identity in lieu of cash cards or access cards.

5G chips inserted into the body, suggested bloom, could act as an early warning system for health problems – alerting people if they’re about to have a heart attack for instance. 5G will also help with reporting, tracking and auditing lost or stolen items, potentially aiding criminal investigations.


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