Digital Milan: Life in the time of 5G

Picture credit: Unsplash

Smart cities are on their way – and Milan is quickly evolving into a city of the future with a strong claim to be Europe’s 5G capital.

A range of technology on show at Milan Digital Week focused on health and wellness, safety and surveillance, manufacturing, education, entertainment and smart cities were all underpinned by next generation mobile connectivity.

From watching unbroken 4K live television broadcasts on a moving tram to collaborative robots, a variety of demonstrations have provided insight into how 5G will change the way we live, study and access services on the move.

Sabrina Baggioni, director of 5G for Vodafone Italy, delves into the future of 5G and its connection to the city at Milano Digital Week

5G has a very, very close relationship with the city of Milan

We started a big pilot project in Milan over a year ago, to achieve over forty 5G use cases by working with our partners to get them into the hands of customers.

Milan is the arena where we are creating new services, new applications, and new ways of doing the things that we experience today with 5G.

A woman working with a collaborative robot. Picture credit: Vodafone

5G is revolutionary

It will change our lives and the way we live; 5G will simplify our way of life because it brings three important innovations from a technological point of view.

A humanoid service robot for patients and carers. Picture credit: Fiona Graham / Vodafone

First, 5G will provide us with far wider bandwidth

It will be superior to what we are used to today, with the best fibre at ten gigabits per second.

Second, it will provide us with services at millisecond latency, which means true real time for the first time, and finally it will allow you to connect more than one million objects per square kilometre­­­­.

5G live TV streaming on a tram in Milan. Picture credit: Vodafone

Immersive tech will be part of 5G future cities

The most significant difference that 5G will bring to the lives of people is the possibility to immerse themselves much more in the reality they live in.

Some of these tools are in the field of augmented reality, in virtual reality, and they will be applied to tourism, to the way we shop, to the way we interact with buildings that do not exist yet.

Immersive learning tool for educational purposes. Picture credit: Fiona Graham / Vodafone

And for companies…

For companies, the biggest innovation will be the ability to create new businesses, production chains and factories that are digital and innovative through collaborative robotics in which human and machine “talk” together, without risking damage thanks to the very low latency of 5G.

Organisations will also be able to programme a complete system and manage predictive maintenance, due to the simple and fast connection of existing plants.

By 2020 many of these things will be reality

It won’t be immediate, but it is approaching swiftly. Over the course of a year, we have already brought more than thirty of these 5G projects to life in Milan, and we expect that by 2020 many will become reality for everyone in everyday life.

Inner city delivery robot. Picture credit: Fiona Graham / Vodafone

What to expect after 5G?

It’s not easy to answer, but I could respond by saying 6G. But before we think about 6G there is so much work still to be done to bring 5G to the field.

In Milan, we are collaborating with thirty-eight partners that are working with us every day in a completely new way. True collaboration requires the ecosystem to learn and adapt, and therefore takes some time.

A small start-up within Vodafone

We are working in a completely different way from previous projects. We currently have a team that is totally cross-functional, with very different skills, with people who come from the world of start-ups, robotics, project management.

Others have a sales background, so they have a greater perception of the market and commercial sense. And finally we have colleagues who are technology and communication experts.

It’s a team that is kind of a small start-up within Vodafone, and that’s definitely made the difference.

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