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5G Is Essential to Meeting Smart City and Healthcare Requirements
By 2025, Frost & Sullivan predicts, smart cities will create business opportunities with a global market value of $3.3 trillion across such industry sectors as building, energy, governance, healthcare, infrastructure and transportation. Among these, the market research and consulting firm projects, smart healthcare will comprise nearly 11 percent of all smart city market share.
It makes perfect sense that smart technologies would enter the healthcare space, since the greater purpose of smart cities is to enhance the quality of life of citizens living in urban environments while creating efficiencies that reduce costs. At the municipal public health level, many smart cities have already been equipped with sensors on lamp posts and other street furniture to monitor pollution and pollen levels. Always on, always connected technology also means that government authorities can collect data to inform and influence urban planning that is responsive to the health and wellbeing of smart city inhabitants, making public health a top priority.
At the patient and practitioner level, a whole host of smart healthcare applications, including mHealth systems, and intelligent and connected medical devices are poised to transform how we perceive and experience diagnosis, treatment and prevention. mHealth, or mobile health, encompasses all applications of telecommunications and multimedia technologies for the delivery of healthcare and patient information, including the practice of medicine supported by mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and wireless infrastructure.
Once again, the advent of mHealth applications would seem a natural evolution of smart city development, as well as the proliferation of wireless devices in the healthcare environment. A survey regarding mHealth by the consulting firm Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company, now part of the PwC network), found that physicians are 250% more likely to own a tablet than other consumers.
mHealth use cases include remote patient monitoring and clinical care, mobile synchronous (voice) and asynchronous (SMS) diagnostic support for remote clinicians, and automated pharmaceutical supply chain systems. Remote patient monitoring supported by IoT-enabled sensors can, for example, detect blood and glucose levels in patients, and send the resulting data back to physicians for immediate analysis and prognosis.
When Milliseconds Matter: Improving Emergency Health Outcomes
By virtue of the integration of edge computing, IoT-based systems and applications, and next‐generation 5G wireless networking, ambulances, which today are used primarily as transport to a local hospital, will soon resemble mobile emergency rooms.
To explain further, the advent of 5G will become integral to meeting the needs of smart cities across all domains, including many smart health applications, which require gigabit-per-second throughputs to relay massive amounts of data among connected devices and systems in near-real time. Compared to current 4G LTE networks, 5G provides extremely low latency, very high data rates, an increase in base station capacity and significant improvement in quality of service (QoS).
In practice, what this means is that the next generation of Emergency Medical Services teams will be able to conduct high-definition, two-way video dialogues with emergency room staff and physicians. This real-time relay of information will enable emergency medical technicians to access patient records from databases while alerting hospital personnel to anticipate what’s coming in from the field. Moreover, EMTs will be able transmit patients’ vital signs to hospitals while they are in transit, providing the data hospital staff need to prepare for intake. When milliseconds matter, advance knowledge of the patient’s condition will allow them to have the right medical specialists and equipment on hand at the precise moment the patient arrives at the facility.
The Present and Future State of Smarter, Healthier Metropolises
Hylan, a market leading provider of specialized communications engineering and construction services, sees 5G and the IoT as having a tremendous impact on smart healthcare at both the macro and micro-levels. As a leading provider of turnkey communications and electrical infrastructure design, engineering and construction services for wireline, wireless and smart city municipal service operators around the U.S., we know from experience that in order for wireless service to operate within the 5G standard in densely populated urban areas such as New York City and other American metropolises, small cells will have to be scattered throughout our cities. As the name indicates, small cells complement larger cellular towers, are smaller in size and reach, and vastly improve wireless service for the immediate area. Small cells are also fairly inconspicuous and typically are deployed on the roofs of buildings.
For New York and other major metro areas to continue on their journey towards smart city development, robust, highly reliable, and highly available wireless capabilities are essential. To that end, Hylan is working with top carriers to upgrade existing deployments in an effort to contribute to smart city initiatives, including smart healthcare.
That said, as smart healthcare continues to leverage innovations in mobile and digital technologies while also driving the growth of intelligent and connected medical devices, we feel it is up to the entire telecommunications, electrical infrastructure, engineering and construction services community to join forces in creating safer, healthier and sustainable urban environments. Technology’s purpose is to serve humanity, and we all are shared stakeholders.
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