No, 5G isn’t the name of a new all-girl band, but a network of sensors being rolled out in the Smart Zone. Compared with the 4G network that we already use on our smartphones, 5G also gives us the chance to check Facebook while we’re out and about – but 100 times faster! The 5G network is also very handy for getting things to talk to each other. For example, cameras can send signals direct to individual traffic lights to make crossing the road smarter and safer.
Traffic lights staying on green longer
The new Smart Zone technological developments will make everyday life for the average Antwerp local a lot more pleasant. For a start, traffic lights are becoming a good deal smarter by communicating directly with the cameras in the area. These cameras are able to detect if someone is crossing more slowly than usual or if a large group of schoolchildren is hovering there, wanting to cross the road.
Lighting on demand
“There are other trial projects underway in the Smart Zone, too,” says John Baeckelmans, vice president of the imec research center. “Sensors can also analyze pictures on Sint-Andriesplein so that the lighting in the square can be switched on or off when needed. So, if there are youngsters in the square playing basketball, their playing comfort is guaranteed with bright lighting. But the streetlights do not have to be left burning all of the time. Or, if there are people in the square just walking about, the light can be adjusted to their needs by being made less bright and less white.”
Parking spaces on demand
“The retailers in Nationalestraat will also benefit from the network,” continues John. “Delivery drivers will soon be able to use an app to reserve a parking slot in advance when they are heading to make a delivery to a store. Instead of parking on the roadway to load or unload, double-parked next to other cars (causing mayhem for trams and cyclists), vans will be able to park in the spaces reserved for them. Each space is reserved via a locked pole for which only the delivery person has the code to unlock. This feature could still be possible without a 5G network, but would require lots of cabling. But with 5G we can avoid all that and the signal is sent wirelessly via the network.”