What is 5G technology and how will it change the world?

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  • 01 Nov 2019

As the world gets smarter and more connected, 5G and geospatial will together be powering cities of the future.

Half of the world’s population lives in cities, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. As our urban ecosystems grow ever larger, technology has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of those living in them. With the onset of digitalization and the Fourth Industrial Revolution radically changing how we live work and interact, the biggest impact will be felt on our cities.

As challenges like population pressure, deforestation, traffic congestion, deteriorating infrastructure, crime and resource crunch impact cities the world over, smart city innovations couldn’t have come at a better time. Smart cities may save the world as much as $22 trillion by 2050, according to the Global Commission on Economy & Climate.

Accurate geospatial information helps governments design better cities, improve public services and engage with citizens. Urbanization of the future will be driven by geospatial data and location would be a crucial component in digitalization of cities. And as cities get smarter, much of this location data has to be in real time. This is where geospatial and 5G converge. 5G and geospatial will together be powering cities of the future.

“5G will act as the connective tissue of tomorrow’s digital economy, linking everything from smartphones to wireless sensors to industrial robots and self-driving cars,” says Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary General, International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Together they are the critical link for a smart, interconnected world, bringing the next level of connectivity to industries and society that helps in shaping digital cities.

Besides powering data at unbelievably fast rates, the coverage density of 5G is a hundred times greater than current standards. 5G can connect up to 1 million devices per sq km; its low latency and incredible speed and bandwidth will bring in the ubiquitous connectivity required by the smart city ecosystem.

What is 5G?

5G is the short form for ‘fifth generation mobile network’ and is quite unlike any of the previous generations in a way that it is unlikely to be defined by any single technology. Often referred to as “the network of networks” because of the way it will bind together multiple existing and future standards, including the current LTE 4G networks, 5G will be way more fast and reliable with greater carrying capacity.

5G will accelerate the move towards digital as a transformative ecosystem that combines Big Data and Cloud, virtualization and augmentation, automation and intelligent machines, distributed computing and artificial intelligence, to derive insights from data that is generated by billions of connected devices.

Of course, 5G doesn’t exist alone and will be majorly driven by the ongoing sensor revolution and the move towards a connected world. According to Jeff Glueck, CEO, Foursquare, “For 5G we need a multi-sensor approach. It is important to add the human element on the physical element for innovation.”

As sensors get smaller, they are getting more and more ubiquitous. From smartphones to cameras, wearable devices to platforms like social media, crowd sensing technologies are increasing at an incredible pace. The number of connected devices worldwide is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion by 2020, according to Statista. The total installed base of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices is projected to amount to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025, a fivefold increase in 10 years.

“Multiple sensors are adding to more dynamic data coming from all quarters, drowning the whole world in a pool of data. You need more dynamic technologies to handle this data,” underlines Christopher De Preter, Chief Sales Officer, Hexagon Geospatial.

“5G will make networks several times faster, increase network capacity, open possibilities to cover not only dense built-up territories in cities but suburbs and villages, and will really unlock the potential of IoT and smart cities development, connecting all people and all things,” says Dr. Volodymyr Kolinko, CEO, Visicom, a Ukraine-based geodata provider company.

Also Read: Impact of 5G on Location technology

5G and smart cities

The expansion of 5G technology is one of the keys to smart city development. 5G will help make smart sustainable cities a reality, underlines Johnson.

An Accenture study had earlier estimated that modernizing rules around 5G small cells could unlock additional $100 billion in US economy.  The connectivity and computing capacity unleashed by these high-speed wireless networks will bring the power of smart city solutions even to municipalities, transforming local economies. Smart city solutions applied to management of vehicle traffic and electrical grids could produce $160 billion in benefits and savings through reductions in energy usage, traffic congestion and fuel costs. These 5G attributes will enable cities to reduce commute time, improve public safety and generate significant smart grid efficiencies.

“In the nearest future, a huge amount of various devices will be available online, providing multimedia services, alternate/augmented realities and IoT solutions. Such innovations are already featured in many aspects of human activities; further they will become part of our ordinary life: transport, energetics, healthcare, manufacturing, business, public safety etc,” adds Dr. Kolinko.

As artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities become common, data analytics will have perhaps the most significant impact on 5G/smart city development. There are some incredible usages of AI-enabled solutions that are already in use. One perfect example is how the New York City Fire Department does predictive analytics to mine Big Data flowing in 7,500 nodal points across 17 different data streams. The department then assigns fire risk scores to over 1 million buildings across the city. The aim is to prevent frequent fire mishaps in the city.

Geospatial and 5G

“Geospatial insight is key to planning for 5G network for unprecedented speed. It will expedite the process of site selection, design and asset management, providing immersive, overlay and point cloud view for decision making,” explains Frank Paulie, CEO, Cyclomedia.

5G’s higher frequencies — which is needed to carry huge amounts of data — have a very short range which can be impacted by smallest of the obstructions. The signal is so sensitive that it can be blocked by the palm of your hand, or even a raindrop. 5G will also require denser telecom network — more towers placed selectively and strategically. Therefore, accurate, authoritative geospatial data is fundamental here to plan network towers.

Further, because of the sensitivity of radio waves, it is necessary to have detailed maps — buildings with roof features, pipes, air conditioners, spires, sloping roofs, and even vegetation which also can affect signal propagation.

5G wireless promises higher capacity, more reliability, lower latency and improved coverage, thus bringing greater accuracy in positioning services, since telecom-based positioning technologies require telecom towers to be synchronized to nanoseconds relative to each other.

5G will also usher in new technology trends that will significantly impact the overall mobile network architecture, thus influencing the traditional positioning concepts as well. With location becoming fundamental to governance and all business process, the value of location-based services for industries such as advertising and marketing, transportation, retail, will only increase, since the 5G rollout and its subsequent expansion will enable more mobile interaction opportunities.


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01 Nov 2019

Facebook’s political ad ban created a disaster in Washington state

On Wednesday, Twitter announced that it will ban all forms of political advertising starting in November, opening up challenging questions about what role social media platforms should play in the 2020 elections. Announced just hours before Facebook’s quarterly earnings call, Twitter’s policy was based on the belief that “political message reach should be earned, not bought,” CEO Jack Dorsey explained.

It’s been a controversial decision — not least with the 2020 presidential frontrunners — but after Facebook’s ongoing fact-checking policy disaster, it’s an appealing option. Would we be better off if platforms just banned political ads entirely?


There’s one place in America where that’s already the case. Washington state boasts some of the strictest campaign finance laws in the country, and after threats of court battles last year, both Facebook and Google decided to ban political ads in the state entirely rather than figure out the nuances of compliance. But those bans haven’t stopped local politicians. Instead, it’s resulted in a tangle of uneven enforcement and confusing rules, making it a cautionary tale for what a poorly implemented ad ban might mean for the 2020 campaigns.

The first major test case for the new system came with Seattle’s city council elections, which will be wrapping in November. Marijuana entrepreneur Logan Bowers ran for city council on an urbanist platform, but he ended up fighting an uphill battle on platforms. He says confusion around the ban “created an unfair and an unlevel playing field and in many ways it made the situation worse.” High-profile ads were ultimately removed by Facebook, usually after they were reported in the media — but plenty of others skated through.

“Some people had their ads restricted and other people didn’t,” Bowers says, usually according to who knew how to spot the loopholes in the system. “Not everyone’s a lawyer.”

Bowers lost his primary on August 6th, taking around 7 percent of the vote.


The haphazard ban hasn’t been successful in keeping Facebook out of trouble with state officials. Earlier this month, Washington state regulators charged Facebook with more violations, finding that the company had continued to sell political ads. In a statement to The Stranger, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company was “working cooperatively with the PDC in an effort to resolve this matter,” but it hasn’t made any changes to its policies so far.

But even if Facebook continues to fight state regulators, the fines likely won’t be significant for the company’s bottom line. The original settlement only cost the company $455,000, which is a minuscule sum for a company that just announced $6 billion in quarterly profits.

“We are committed to protecting elections on Facebook and have built tools to give people more information about the ads they see, including via Facebook’s Ad Library and Ad Library Report,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge when reached for comment about the ban.

Crucially, Washington’s regulations don’t include any penalties for politicians who try to place ads. The rules just instruct Facebook and other advertising platforms to be more transparent about who is placing the ads and how much they’re paying for them. The only tangible impact for candidates is that sometimes ads would be taken down — but often, they wouldn’t. So as local races began to heat up, candidates continued to place ads on Facebook and boost posts on their pages to reach potential voters. Plenty of candidates didn’t care about the rule and were willing to exploit Facebook’s unwillingness to enforce it.

In April, The Stranger reported that one Seattle City Council candidate, Heidi Wills, was able to run a handful of ads on Facebook while her opponent, Kate Martin, was blocked from running any. The two candidates got into a spat through the Wills campaign’s own comments section on Facebook with Martin pleading, “Could you stop paying to promote your Facebook posts and just play by the rules like the rest of us? It’s getting annoying.”

Wills replied, “I am following all the rules and you are welcome to stop following my campaign on FB.”

Wills advanced into the November general election with around 21 percent of the vote. Martin lost by a wide margin, placing fifth in the August primary.

As national campaigns have heated up, Facebook and other platforms have faced growing concerns that ad policies might help one candidate more than another. Those concerns came to a head earlier this month when the Joe Biden campaign called out the platform for running misleading ads about the Biden family’s connections to the Ukrainian government. In letters responding to the controversy obtained by The Verge, Facebook’s public policy director for global elections, Katie Harbath, said that the platform would not be fact-checking what politicians say in ads.

“Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” Harbath said.


At the same time, a number of attempts to regulate political advertising on platforms have faced stiff resistance in Congress. The Honest Ads Act, a bipartisan measure championed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA), would force big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google to treat campaign ads on their platforms like how they’re treated on radio, television, and print, meaning they would need to disclose publicly who paid for them. There are other measures that focus on privacy that would let users opt out of targeted advertising, like Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) Mind Your Own Business Act. It’s hard to say if these measures will be approved anytime soon, let alone before the 2020 election, but they are filled with enforcement actions the government could take to ensure that platforms are applying their ads policies evenly. For example, Wyden’s bill would authorize the Federal Trade Commission with the ability to fine companies like Facebook and Twitter for first-time offenses, potentially deterring them from misbehaving.

But any policy written into law will ultimately have to be enforced by platforms. And if the past is any test case, those companies may not put much effort into enforcing it even-handedly. If Facebook’s Washington state ban is any guide, the first problem may be incentivizing platforms to pay attention.

Ari Hoffman, a bouncy house tycoon and Republican who ran for the District 2 seat on Seattle’s City Council, told The Verge that he didn’t even think Facebook tried to enforce its ban.

“The policy itself has been weaponized by the politicians, by the PACS, by the newspapers and anybody with special interests,” Hoffman said. “The ban hasn’t really accomplished anything. People just find workarounds. I found workarounds.”


01 Nov 2019

WhatsApp’s Fingerprint Unlock Feature Is Now on Android

WhatsApp for Android now lets you unlock the app with your fingerprint on supported handsets.

The security feature has been available for compatible iPhones since February 2019, with iOS users also able to use Face ID to unlock the app. Face ID isn’t yet an option for WhatsApp’s Android users.

The new fingerprint feature means that after unlocking your handset, when you go to open WhatsApp you’ll be asked to press your finger on the phone’s sensor to enter the messaging app.

Yes, it’s an extra step, and yes, you’ll keep forgetting you’ve enabled it when you open the app expecting the main screen to appear, but the feature offers extra peace of mind for anyone keen to keep their chats and other WhatsApp data from prying eyes.

How to enable fingerprint unlock

To enable the the new fingerprint unlock feature, first make sure you have the latest version of the app on your device. Then, tap Settings > Account > Privacy > Fingerprint lock. Next, turn on Unlock with fingerprint, and then confirm your fingerprint.

The setup screen within settings lets you choose whether to have the feature kick in immediately after you leave the app, or a minute after you leave, or only when you’ve been away for at least 30 minutes.

You’ll also see a button that lets you choose how much content to show in message notifications, in other words, whether you want to see a preview of the sender and message text when a notification comes through.

Co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton launched WhatsApp in 2004.

In 2014, Facebook acquired the company for a colossal $19 billion, but then, amid reported tensions with its new owners over plans for the messaging app, Acton and Koum decided to leave WhatsApp in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

New to WhatsApp? Check out Digital Trends’ handy guide on how to get the most out of it.


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