5G in NYC: The potential benefits for businesses

Jeremy Goldberg, the deputy CTO for the NYC mayor's office, talks about how Governors Island is a great 5G testbed and why small businesses need to be more digitally inclined.

5G in NYC: The potential benefits for businesses

CNET and CBS News Senior Producer Dan Patterson sat down with the deputy CTO for the NYC mayor's office Jeremy Goldberg to discuss how Governors Island is a great 5G testbed and why small businesses need to be more digitally inclined. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Dan Patterson: We are going to hear a lot about 5G over the next several years. It's not quite here, but New York City has been working on Governors Island to build 5G networks. Help me understand what New York City has built, and how you scale this not just to the people who can already afford 5G but maybe to those who can't.

Jeremy Goldberg: So the mayor made a commitment at the very beginning of his administration to provide universal broadband access for all New Yorkers. That's affordable, that's high speed, that's the same type of connectivity that any one of us should be able to have access to and enjoy.

When we looked at partners, sort of as we established the connectivity challenge, we wanted to develop a test that could serve as a model for learning and for insights, not just for the city's purposes in the case of like how we think about what this connectivity means, but for entrepreneurs, for academics, for nonprofits and others that are developing really unique AR/VR applications, that are developing IoT solutions, smart sensing, and others.

When we looked at Governors Island, which had a relatively low connectivity at that point, we said this is a great place as a testbed to learn what are the constraints. When you think about a place like Governors Island that has very interesting and difficult terrain as well as some really difficult historical preservation sites, when we looked at Governors Island as a testbed, there are all sorts of different use cases, examples, and places that will really stress test this network: Upload and download speeds on the network, the number of people that can access the network at any given point in time.

SEE: 5G technology: A business leader's guide (Tech Pro Research)

What that means when we invite entrepreneurs such as those from the New York City Media Lab to come and test their AR/VR technologies and solutions on Governors Island, what does that mean for the network? Are we able to actually dedicate time, staff, and resources for proving out that these technologies are going to reach the market or, frankly, be able to get in the hands of all New Yorkers?

Dan Patterson: Okay, so when we talk about 5G, especially in this era of the internet, we need to also talk about security and privacy. How do we make sure that when we deploy networks like this that they are not just cyber secure, but that our privacy is also taken care of?

Jeremy Goldberg: One of the things that we've built into the NYCx programming is an effort to really think through, through the testing and learning of what the technology's capabilities are, is insighted to what the short term challengers are and the longterm. We as a city and we as an office look at this is as: How might we prepare for all the transformation that's taking place and make sure that equity and safety and privacy, our individual privacy is protected and safe?

SEE: Overcoming challenges to install 5G on Governors Island in NYC (TechRepublic)

When we established the program, it was with that in mind that we would take that learning and those insights that we're collecting from the tests and the research and development and from some of our advisors and supporters, and really provide that not only as a demonstration of what's possible, what's in the future, but things that we as a city need to proactively think about and consider as we chart the path forward with any 5G technology or others.

Dan Patterson: So you mentioned a lot of the innovations that 5G could help bring: Augmented reality, the Internet of Things. How can business also benefit, especially SMBs, or small middle market businesses, here in New York City and other cities benefit from 5G?

Jeremy Goldberg: I think from a starting point, starting block, here is for small businesses to continue to thrive and grow in this city, becoming more digitally inclined and many of them are. Some of the most basic principles and things that we need to understand really are at the, for the multi-factor password identification, we have to ensure that there's a learning and a training that kind of happens before we actually ever even enter into some of these different projects.

SEE: How Governors Island became the launchpad for NYC's 5G initiative (TechRepublic)

Thinking about it, there's two points here. I think one is there's a general kind of education and awareness of what the technologies are that are out there and that exist, and what is the right fit for these technologies for that particular business. So if you have an accounting firm, an accounting practice that has dozens of employees, lots of confidential data and information, lots of transactions, lots of contracts that are being signed, the need for 5G or the need for a connection, a secure connection, may be very different that one that might have two or three employees, that has fewer confidential materials, documents, and contracts.

So I think in any case, you know, what this can do, what the 5G's capabilities are is really to help improve the speed of business in terms of efficiency, but also make that opportunity more available for someone who's a user of a service to be able to do that virtually, to be able to access that person at different points in time that are maybe not through the nine to five timeline. So those are a few thoughts.

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