Small Cells & 5G: Using Tech To Create a Smart City Future for Texas


Starting today, the Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA) will host a two-day conference called “Igniting a Smart Texas Revolution.” The event will focus on the emerging area of smart cities, which as defined by industry expert and Fast Company contributor Boyd Cohen is “a broad, integrated approach to improving the efficiency of city operations, the quality of life for its citizens, and growing the local economy.”

Dallas is working on a number of smart city initiatives, including an intelligent lighting project that enables environmental sensors to measure pollutants with the aim of reducing carbon emissions. The smart sensors can also measure temperature, humidity, and allergen levels, and allow outages to be tracked remotely. This is just one example of many smart city projects that deploy connected technology in order to improve the urban experience.

A smart city is a connected city, which is a reminder of how critical a solid technological infrastructure is to being able to support smart city innovation. Our insatiable appetite for connectivity is only growing and our wireless networks need all of the relief they can get.

One of the most relevant and timely topics around this issue is small cells, which are laptop-sized devices that attach to the side of a building or on a street pole to offload network congestion. Cities that are able to deploy small cells will benefit from additional wireless capacity. State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, is sponsoring statewide legislation, Senate Bill 1004, that will go far in delivering the benefits of small cell technology to Texans.

Another hot smart city topic is 5G, a next generation super-fast wireless network designed to provide enhanced mobile broadband, promising speeds 10 to100 times faster than we have today. However, the benefits of 5G are only possible through the deployment of small cell technology. The DIA conference will discuss all of this and more as well as consider best practices and case studies from around the country that can inform our own statewide strategy.

Legislation like SB 1004 is crucial to reducing barriers to build the necessary infrastructure and deploying small cell and 5G technologies. I’d like to thank Senator Hancock for his vision, Jennifer Sanders at DIA for bringing Texas’ leadership together and also urge all stakeholders to continue to champion Texas’ technology future.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings had it right when he said, “Today, technology impacts every aspect of our lives. Being a smart city is not just about offering the latest products. It is about solving peoples’ problems through innovation and strategic planning.” Small cell and 5G deployment are important steps toward building the capacity that it will take to achieving a smart city reality.

Chelsea Collier is a Senior Advisor for Texans for Economic Progress (TEP), Editor-At-Large of Smart Cities Connect, Co-founder of Impact Hub Austin and a Zhi-Xing China Eisenhower Fellow. Follow @chelseamcc

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