Union Grove, Wis., Wants 5G, but Can’t Seem to Find It

Before the village can get the ball rolling on smart city technologies — connected infrastructure, public Wi-Fi and the like — officials need to find a supplier for the next-generation Internet backbone.

by Jonathon Sadowski, The Journal Times / July 24, 2019
Shutterstock/Iaremenko Sergii

(TNS) — Village officials are holding off on implementing 5G Internet smart city technology for now but are still waiting on a quote from AT&T for downtown public Wi-Fi.

The decision comes after Village Trustee Gordon Svendsen, chairman of the Community Development Authority, suggested in late May that the village explore ways to bring smart-city features to incentivize development and improve quality of life. But a lack of 5G Internet access in Wisconsin means officials are tabling the discussion for a later date.

“I think the general mood is when it is more readily available, we will look further into it,” Village Administrator Michael Hawes said in an email.

Municipalities across the United States have installed public Wi-Fi hotpots without the boon of 5G or smart city technology, so that feature could still make its way to Union Grove. But it is too early to tell.

“I would say it (public Wi-Fi) is just in an information-gathering stage,” Hawes said. “Neither the CDA or the Village Board has given an indication of what, if any, we would be willing to spend on the project.”

Smart cities tap into technology and data gathering to better inform development and government decisions. The implementation could be as simple as using LED streetlights to save on energy costs or as high-tech as having traffic lights synced up to allow faster travel for emergency response vehicles when they are on a call.

Smart city technology is typically found in midsize or large cities, but its implementation is not unheard of in municipalities the size of Union Grove. The small cities of Parkville, Mo. (population 5,500), and Seat Pleasant, Md. (population 4,700) have successfully installed smart-city kiosks that track population flow, air quality and other metrics in addition to offering information about the cities.

Racine was in April named one of five winners of the nationwide Smart Cities Readiness Challenge, which will provide the city with access to expertise and financing for smart city-related projects. The win meant Racine is set to become the first smart city in Wisconsin.

©2019 The Journal Times, Racine, Wisc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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