The 5G digital revolution

Frank Vieveen, Programme manager of Smart City Rotterdam, explains what 5G means for the public space

5G will have a major impact on the public space. It is the fifth generation wireless mobile network technology, the successor to 4G. This new network is expected to be hundreds of times faster and even more reliable than 4G. The 5G network can soon be applied in all kinds of aspects in our society. For example, in 'smart healthcare' operations can be performed remotely and with regard to traffic, flows can be optimised. It will also make it possible to increase the use of augmented reality, virtual reality and holograms. 

More transmitters in the city

Currently in the public space there is an increasing number of devices that are connected and communicate via networks, such as traffic lights and security cameras. The arrival of 5G, combined with the Internet of Things could, for example, contribute to more streamlined traffic, fewer traffic jams and less air pollution. It is expected that five to ten times as many antennas will be needed to provide widespread coverage. According to Frank Vieveen, Programme manager of Smart City at the Municipality of Rotterdam, it is not yet known what the antennas will look like, but density will increase in the public space. The transmitters could be installed on buildings, in bus shelters or on smart lampposts. Some antennas will be visible, others will be more concealed.

The City of Rotterdam believes it is important that the antennas are not too big and conspicuous in the street scene. The municipality is currently developing an antenna policy, which should be completed at the end of 2019. The antenna policy must provide clarity for telecommunication parties. "The exact details of the antenna policy are being considered from several perspectives. What are the dos and don'ts related to installing antennas? What will be the maximum compaction of the number of antennas? And how are the antennas going to be installed? As well as: how is the municipality going to facilitate the roll-out of the network?"

5G makes more accurate measurements possible

By connecting devices, applications and objects to the Internet sensors can be used to perform measurements in the public space. Public space managers already use them. Sensors measure things like the condition of roads, and see precisely when road surface maintenance needs to be carried out. With the aid of 5G technology more sensors can be installed, which means measurements can be more targeted and also be performed in real time. It makes it possible, for example, to measure the concentration level of pollution in surface water more accurately and can reveal the origin of the pollution.

Building with Augmented Reality

The higher 5G bandwidth will soon facilitate increased use of augmented reality, virtual reality and holograms. The application of augmented reality in urban development makes it possible, among other things, to make building plans visual. "On a building site augmented reality can be used to show the planned construction, you can walk around it and observe its impact", Frank Vieveen explains. Rotterdam is also working on producing a digital copy of the city. One of the objectives is to be able to project it on the street, so you can see what is underground. This is useful for producing accurate calculations for building plans."

This is a shortened version of the article by Dewi van Deurzen for the trade publication Stedelijk Interieur ( and (