As Nevada Prepares For 5G, ‘Technology Is The New Asphalt.’ – Self-driving cars, trucks, and buses are already on the road in Nevada, and drone testing activities can be found throughout the state.
Nevada city planners and government officials have been among the most receptive to new and evolving technology in recent years, bringing new companies, jobs, and investment to an unexpected desert location.
However, Nevada, like the rest of the country, is about to be put to the test by the impending adoption of widespread 5G connectivity – which opens the door to greater automation, customization, and, realistically, privacy concerns – bringing with it the possibility of connecting almost everything under the sun to the internet.
The state of Nevada has a long history of public-private partnerships and regulatory adjustments that have allowed it to be an early user and tester of new technology. Officials are already advocating for additional investment and attention to the government’s role in the cities and communities of the future, with 5G just around the corner.
, more collaborations, more guidelines from the federal government, and more thought were given to the placement of “guardrails” to protect customers’ privacy, and physical safety would be required.
“Technology is the new asphalt,” Cortez Masto remarked at a 5G-focused event organized by Axios in Washington on Thursday morning. “There are so many advantages, and it’s an exciting time for me; it necessitates a public-private relationship, and it necessitates our collaboration.”
Cortez Masto, who refers to Nevada as the “innovation state,” ran off a laundry list of recent initiatives by the state to attract investment and jobs from technical entrepreneurs whose first option for a testing location might not have been the middle of the desert.
Reno became the country’s first city to have a regular drone delivery service in 2016. Cooperation between 7-Eleven and drone developer Flirtey was approved by government officials, allowing a local 7-Eleven convenience store to deploy drones to transport dozens of orders to nearby customers.
Nevada was one of the first states to permit limited commercial drone testing, and it has subsequently opened the world’s first drone-specific airport as well as the world’s first indoor and outdoor drone racing complex. The state’s openness to drone innovation, according to Cortez Masto, is a balancing act: trying to promote new economic prospects while also working to “put guardrails in place” to safeguard public safety.
She stated that the state had taken a similar approach to autonomous car implementation. The Nevada Department of Transportation has been working to roll out sensor technology that enables more advanced communication between road signs, traffic signals, and cars on the road, and an autonomous bus system is already on the ground in Las Vegas.
Even Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has done his part to set his state apart from the rest. He was the first sitting governor to ride in a self-driving car when he did so in 2011.
During a governor’s event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, he described his experience in a Google prototype: “We went out of Carson City, and we’re going 70 miles per hour.” “And I’m driving, and this is a new feeling for me; my toes were curling a little bit,” she said.
According to the News Best States rankings, U.S. Nevada is ranked fifth overall in terms of infrastructure but first in the transportation sub metric. However, as 5G paves the path for greater autonomous car research, preserving that status will likely necessitate more investment in sensor technology and compatible roadways in the years ahead, potentially resulting in a significant economic windfall for the state.
5G: The Coming Key to Technology’s Future
Qualcomm researchers projected last year that 5G technology would generate more than $2.4 trillion in economic production in the automobile sector alone by 2035, implying that around 20% of 5G’s benefits will be focused on getting people and deliveries from point A to point B. So if a state can take advantage of this early in 5G’s public rollout, it might help attract investment and boost productivity.
“We want to keep testing because we want to make sure we’re following those safety precautions,” Cortez Masto said. “As some of those collaborations [grow], I believe there should be additional money flowing in from the federal level.”
Cortez Masto believes the federal government can help encourage technological advancements and public-private partnerships to make America’s highways and citizens’ daily lives safer and more efficient.
However, she added that these partnerships must be supported intelligently, noting that President Donald Trump’s administration’s recently announced $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment plan “doesn’t do enough” to lay the groundwork for communities, particularly in Nevada, to partner with companies and adopt potentially revolutionary technologies.
Cortez Masto noted that “toll roads and tolls are unlawful on our highways and roads,” referring to the Trump administration’s plan’s heavy reliance on revenue-generating infrastructure projects and partnerships.
“How are we going to get private sector enterprises to come in?” she wondered.
Nonetheless, widespread 5G adoption is likely a few years away. A few businesses have started to test the technology in specific cities, with Charter Communications announcing intentions to test the 5G connection in Reno in January. However, Cortez Masto is one of several Nevada officials working to position her state – and, more generally, the country – to take advantage of 5G’s potential whenever it becomes available to the general public.
“That investment, as well as [growing] the people,” she said, will be critical in the future.