I have been a fan of The Happy Medic for years, and often find his commentary to be insightful, amusing, and incredibly accurate. I follow him on a couple of different social media websites, and his post from last week about Alexa Alarms got me thinking.
As we transition into the new era of the Internet of Things, we will need to find ways to actively engage new technology. Right now, our tools as Emergency Managers are kinda clunky and rely on old technology (wireless, radio, television, etc…) They have trouble interfacing with new technology (satellite radio, internet, etc…) Where they do interface successfully, it is more often because of an opt-in by the end-user than because the tool itself was useful.
HM wonders about the effectiveness of Alexa Alarms because of the need for WiFi, and the fact that the group of people who needs this most is not the most technically savvy group of people. This got me thinking about the future of wireless technology, and specifically about the near-future 5G networks. As I understand the technology and its proposed usages, 5G will replace not only existing mobile phone networks, but the bandwidth will be such that it will also likely replace wired internet connections in many cases.
Some of the information I’ve read (and I’m actually quite sorry that I didn’t bookmark it all those weeks and/or months back so that I could refer to it) says that with this increased bandwidth also comes a decreased range, and so 5G will need many more “towers” than existing wireless networks. 5G towers will likely look nothing like the structures we have come to associate with cell towers. In fact, they may be nothing more than another box on telephone poles or light poles. Some writers have even theorized that with the right technology, 5G boxes could be powered by solar energy and be placed on posts alongside solar powered lamps.
Now we’re talking! I’m not an expert and can’t speak to the validity of these predictions, but I do know that a stable high-speed network that is independent of other critical infrastructure would be a huge advancement over the wireless data system we have today. It would also solve HM’s WiFi issue, while providing a valuable resource to improve the resiliency of people with disabilities, access, and functional needs.
So, how do we make it happen?