How agencies can prepare for 5G
By identifying the priority use cases, establishing solution requirements and seeking the right technology partner, agencies can build a roadmap to successful deployment.
The 5G movement promises to streamline wireless communication for government, businesses and consumers alike. The technology will connect millions of devices and reduce latencies to as low as one millisecond -- 60 to 120 times faster than average 4G performance.
At the federal level, 5G might be used to enhance the data streaming from drones, sensors and wearable devices and improve virtual and augmented reality applications for training. It can bring other benefits as well, such as real-time data transfers for deployed units, additional mobile features in aircraft cockpits and real-time inventory and maintenance updates. It will also be key to monitoring applications covering everything from supply chain management to medical treatments.
For local law enforcement, it can support mission-critical applications that require quick response, such as analysis of video surveillance footage. Firefighters can get clearer drone feeds of wildfires for faster response, and EMTs can expect more seamless emergency medical applications.
At this stage, government agencies are keenly aware of the benefits of 5G implementation. So, how can they best prepare for its deployment?
Let’s take a look at why agencies should understand the different 5G use cases, establish device requirements and find the right technology partner -- essential steps in the process.
Building the use cases
Agencies must research potential 5G use cases and strategize around the ones that will have the greatest impact. Without this understanding and vision, they risk setting up inefficient or inadequate deployments.
Agencies may have several potential 5G use cases, so developing a strategy and establishing priorities can help streamline the selection process. Once the best use cases have been identified, agencies can begin to look at which 5G devices and technology partners make the most sense for them.
Finding the right equipment
Begin with the following premise: Each end user’s wireless conditions are different. While 5G mmWave is available in urban areas and pockets of condensed population, 5G Sub 6 is deployed more widely, covering rural areas as well. Thus, agencies must consider the environment where they plan to deploy their 5G solutions to reap the full benefits of the technology. They should also thoroughly understand requirements related to compatibility, battery life, cost, multi-factor authentication features and environment (indoors vs outdoors).
For example, in the EMS industry, 5G is showing great potential for giving first responders access to the technologies and communication tools to deliver more informed patient care at the point of service. But EMS workers have very specific needs when it comes to mobile technology and will not be able to use just any 5G-enabled solution.
That makes understanding the nuances of each application a priority. So, a 5G-enabled solution for EMS workers may require design elements such as long-lasting battery for shift duration, flexible form factor for travel or single-handed use and scanning and camera capabilities to automate data upload and patient verification.
Operating in a 5G-enabled environment will also allow agencies to take advantage of new emerging technologies, like augmented reality, virtual reality and edge computing-based solutions, from their 5G-enabled mobile devices. This combination will allow for both faster and more accurate information processing and transmission. Thus, agencies must verify that the mobile solutions they deploy have the capability to support emerging 5G applications.
Additionally, agencies will require devices with added security features as employees continue to work from home. Some of this security will be achieved through software, as 5G's greater speeds will allow for higher levels of encryption, and the virtualization of systems will enable more authentication between networks and devices. This higher level security can also be achieved with physical device features, including built-in webcam covers, fingerprint readers and multi-factor authentication.
It bears repeating – being 5G-enabled is just the tip of the iceberg, especially in mission-critical situations.
Seeking out the right technology partner
Once an agency has an understanding of the gaps that 5G connectivity can solve, its desired use cases and the additional technology requirements critical to the needs of its workforce, then what?
Agencies must pick the right technology partner to help them plan for and roll out near- and long-term 5G-enabled solutions. The right partner can help guide agency leaders in making smart decisions on how to evolve their mobile strategy to transform how citizens interact with government.
Although we’re on the cusp of widespread 5G implementation and agencies may be eager to start the deployment process, it is imperative they take the necessary steps to prepare.
By identifying the priority use cases, establishing solution requirements and seeking the right technology partner, agencies can ensure a roadmap to successful deployment.
While planning for 5G is tough for agencies that are dealing with overwhelming workloads, limited budgets and legacy systems, they don’t have to go it alone. Government agencies must be prepared to take advantage of 5G services because that is where the world -- including constituents, commercial partners and other stakeholders -- is going.
Michael Pozapalidis is Senior Executive, Business Development, at Panasonic.