5G is set to make a big splash all over the world. In the locations where it’s available, mobile internet speeds will rival even the fastest broadband connections, enabling huge amounts of data to be uploaded and downloaded on the fly. For example, 5G in healthcare will enable a new generation of internet-connected devices and allow us to generate more data than ever before. This data can then be used to provide more tailored treatment both for individuals and entire populations.
But one of the most tantalising prospects of 5G is perhaps its technological application to the automotive industry, enabling smarter connected cars, better (and more connected) road infrastructures, and additional efficiencies on the manufacturing line.
Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, though, as availability will be a problem, with 5G coverage mostly constrained to larger cities. In fact, the network infrastructure upgrade is arguably going to affect businesses more than individuals, at least in the short-term, with certain industries more ripe for disruption than others – such as the aforementioned automotive industry.
5G & Automobiles
5G will arguably be the biggest driver of change in the automotive industry since Henry Ford adopted the production line approach. It’s also a necessary precursor to the widespread availability of autonomous vehicles – once a sizeable proportion of road traffic consists of driverless cars, we’ll need the appropriate infrastructure in place to process the continuous transmission of data.
The upgrade will also open up the potential for connected cities, which could mean major changes to the way we experience the road. The key notion behind a connected city is that everything can be controlled via the cloud, so that important decisions can be made on the fly. This means that, for instance, in the case of an accident or serious congestion, the problem can be easily accommodated with minor tweaks to the system.
5G has a lot to offer on the production line, too. Among others, it will allow for the transmission of exponential quantities of information from the factory floor, providing manufacturers with more opportunities to drive greater efficiency in the workplace. To say that knowledge is power isn’t incorrect, but it’s a dated perception of our digital world. In this day and age, data is the true power, and 5G will enable us to gather a lot of it.
By powering a new generation of management software, 5G and AI in combination will be able to make smart recommendations for ways to improve processes. It can cut down on wastage, help you to keep track of parts, and find the most efficient ways to assign the workforce to achieve the maximum amount of productivity.
The good news is that all of these technological advancements are set to have a real-world impact. Even if we purely talk about automated vehicles, these can make transportation more accessible to people with visual or physical disabilities. Furthermore, automated vehicles could one day be used for public transport, and even for logistics or delivery.
Some scaremongers say that AI, 5G, machine learning, and other related technologies are going to take jobs away from people. The truth is that while it will certainly change the nature of the work being done, more jobs will be created than displaced. This may require greater standards of education, but Africa was never short of entrepreneurs.
Hopes & Reflections
Unfortunately, infrastructure concerns across Africa mean that the technology won’t be ready for personal use for the majority of the population. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be excited, because while it may not immediately reach the general public, 5G can still power everything from traffic systems to congestion reduction and accident prevention. What this implies is that even if the average person doesn’t have access to 5G, they’ll still be impacted by the way that it influences the world around them.