It is becoming increasingly clear that the conservation and protection of our natural resources is the key to a prosperous future for us all — not just the current generation, but future generations as well. Distributing and managing these natural resources with a measured approach is also one way to overcome income disparity and improve quality of life across the board. The question that naturally arises, however, is how can we do this? There are legislative hurdles, of course, but what of practical hurdles? To solve these, there may be an unlikely savior: 5G technology.

What Is 5G Technology?

The term 5G refers to a fifth-generation wireless and data network. Currently, we rely on a 4G network, which for the most part, is sufficient for basic data streaming and wireless communications. But for the Internet of Things to reach its full potential, a more capable, more universal and more accessible network is required. In other words, we need 5G technology before we can reach the next level of a fully connected world.

For 5G technology to become a reality, updates in infrastructure, mobile technology, sensor technology, processor technology and other areas must first be made. Though companies like Qualcomm are spearheading this effort, currently, 5G technology is still several years down the road. However, the wait will be worth it; according to the GSMA, 5G technology promises to deliver:

  1. Up to 10 Gbps connections to end points in the field
  2. 1 millisecond end-to-end round-trip delay
  3. 1,000x bandwidth per unit area
  4. Up to 100x number of connected devices
  5. Up to 99.999 percent availability
  6. Up to 100 percent coverage
  7. 90 percent reduction in network energy usage
  8. Up to 10-year battery life for low-power, machine-type devices

This improved capability will transform the way that humans and machines interact with each other. And it is this capability that has the potential to radically improve the way in which we consume, manage and distribute our resources.

How Can It Power a Greener Future?

In simple terms, 5G technology can help facilitate a cleaner, greener, more environmentally conscious future by making things more efficient. Imagine a world in which self-driving cars, leveraging electric power for their journey, travel with millimeter precision to their destination — the effect would be fewer road blocks, traffic delays and accidents, plus more-efficient driving manners. This type of efficiency is only possible with a network capable of supporting millions of connected devices (in this case, the cars) at once. Such efficiency (particularly when paired with zero-emission technology) could improve air quality while drastically reducing consumption of fossil fuels. And that’s just one example of how 5G technology may power a greener future.

Consider another possible (and likely) use case: buildings that think for themselves. Energy meters, thermostats, water meters and various other building implements that are connected to the cloud can track consumption patterns and user habits, and in the process, make changes for greater efficiency. This data could then also be used to help human users make decisions that would further cut down on energy consumption. The key is connectivity (and some degree of artificial intelligence, of course). By connecting devices to the cloud, you enable them to think and communicate with others.

What Does a Greener Future Hold?

The benefits of consuming less should be self-evident. After all, many of the resources that we depend on are in finite supply. With technology, not only can we better manage and maintain natural resources like water, food, oil and natural gas, but in doing so, we can minimize the effects of their consumption (such as an increase in greenhouse gases or greater demand on our electrical grids). Needless to say, anything that helps us better manage this consumption is something to embrace.

Though 5G technology may not directly lower resource consumption, it will enable other technologies to do so. Whether that technology comes in the form of an electric self-driving car, a connected infrastructure grid that can think and act for itself, or smart homes that require little to no energy from the grid at all, the future will be a brighter place because of it. And all of these things will be made possible thanks to an expanded, more capable, more accessible wireless communications network. Bring on 5G.

Read More:
The Biggest Pros and Cons of Electric Vehicles
How Americans Are Embracing the Power of Their Homes
5 Solar Energy Trends for the Year Ahead

By Jessica Oaks

Jessica Oaks is associate editor for Freshly Techy and a freelance writer covering technology, healthcare, finance, fashion, travel and more.