A smart node stands by Los Angeles City Hall. The same nodes will soon find a home in West Hollywood, Calif.

Apr 04 2019

5G Network Slicing Could Be a Boon to Smart Cities

Cities will be able to more granularly prioritize different applications and services using network slicing technology.

West Hollywood’s Smart City Strategic Plan aims to address “challenges involving sustainability, mobility, accessibility to government, resiliency and transparency,” says Francisco Contreras, city innovation manager.

“We have a pilot that replaces light poles with smart nodes that discretely integrate 5G small cell technology in anticipation of the need to develop a robust 5G network in the near future,” Contreras says of the California city.

The true potential of smart cities will be realized with low-latency wireless connectivity. That is set to change soon when Verizon and AT&T introduce commercial 5G networks. Smart cities like West Hollywood seek to improve services by operationalizing data across systems with diverse network demands. Enter network slicing, which will empower cities to allocate parts of their 5G networks to dedicated uses.

Network Slicing Can Give Certain Apps a Higher Priority 

“Network slicing allows providers to ‘slice up’ their 5G networks to meet the requirements of different services based on capacity, latency, security, quality and reliability,” says Sifat Ferdousi of the Networks Lab at the University of California, Davis.

For example, a city would place its traffic management system into a specific slice designed for real-time monitoring, while emergency services would get a higher-priority slice. “In case of emergencies, network operators will still be able to guarantee essential services by assigning first responders the highest-priority slice of the network,” Ferdousi says.

Cities thus are poised to take advantage of 5G’s arrival. For example, Los Angeles looks to better integrate data across systems and to create services that can learn from each other. 

MORE FROM STATETECH: See how network slicing technology will aid first responders. 

How Edge Computing Can Benefit from Network Slicing

“Current smart city models build out applications as single verticals. We are aiming to change that,” says Bhaskar Krishnamachari, a founding member of the University of Southern California’s I3 consortium, a group that works closely with Los Angeles on its goals. The consortium is examining edge computing as a solution that benefits from 5G network slicing.

“Network slicing will allow for provisioning computation close to the edge of where devices are placed, with slices supporting the combination of computation and data streams necessary for operating services with greater flexibility,” Krishnamachari says.

Juniper NetworksJunos Node Slicing technology provides separate administrative domains handling separate instances on the same router, providing operators with the dynamic flexibility to fulfill the demands of smart city service.


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