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Spark turns on 5G in Auckland

By Shannon Williams, Thu 15 Oct 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Spark has turned on 5G in downtown Auckland and has partnered with Auckland Transport to showcase some of the latest in IoT technology and demonstrate what the future could look like for Aucklands CBD with the power of 5G. 

5G is expected to underpin the widespread deployment of IoT technology with its increased speeds, low latency (or lag) and reliability. To bring this potential to life, Spark and AT have installed IoT enabled infrastructure at Auckland's Wynyard Quarter - including 5G connected lighting, smart benches with charging capability, smart bins, and parking sensors.  

"We are excited to launch our commercial 5G network in downtown Auckland, building on the private network we have in place to support Emirates Team New Zealand and the launch of Spark Race Zone last month," says Spark technology lead, Renee Mateparae.

"Our partnership with AT is about helping bring to life the significant contribution 5G and IoT will make in addressing urban, economic and sustainability challenges across the country."

According to Spark, 5G will eventually allow for one million devices to be connected per square kilometre on a continual basis, generating data that will help governments, councils and businesses respond quickly, allocate resources wisely and plan for the future, which will ultimately improve services and amenities for New Zealanders. 

"We know from existing research that IoT applications can improve quality of life significantly by saving us time, improving health and safety outcomes, reducing environmental impact, and boosting social connectedness and civic participation," says Mateparae.

"Smart lighting has been installed in the surrounding streets of Wynyard Quarter's Innovation Precinct, which can now generate heat maps of foot traffic to help AT identify any choke points to better inform future infrastructure investments, as well as monitor air and noise pollution.  

Some lights are fitted with 5G connected CCTV which could enable better detection of criminal activity, capturing high definition video even at night, and can be dimmed and brightened remotely to help reduce energy consumption.  

Solar powered smart benches with convenient smart phone and electric scooter charging capabilities have also been installed at the Quarter, connected over Sparks low powered IoT network. Sensors attached to bins can now detect when they are full and could contact the council for service, preventing overflow and reducing the number of rubbish trucks on the road. 

Auckland Transport group manager, technology solutions Chris Creighton said the installations at Wynyard Quarter were not just shiny new tech, but real solutions to existing and impending challenges.  

"We're learning how to use smart infrastructure in a way that works for Auckland so we can leverage applications as they evolve and become more commonplace," he says.

"For example, we estimate Aucklanders visiting the city can spend up to one third of their journey searching for a carpark, so were working with Spark to explore ways to help Aucklanders find available carparks quicker by installing 200 smart parking sensors throughout the Quarter."

Creighton said that in the future, AT expects IoT applications powered by 5G could be used to detect incidents such as car crashes or pedestrian accidents and notify the appropriate authorities, reducing the time it takes for emergency services to respond and potentially saving lives.  

Spark and AT have installed the IoT technology at Wynyard Quarter with key technology partners, NB Smart Cities, Glowbal NZ, SmartSensor Technologies and Parkable with the shared goal of using IoT and data to make better decisions and improve quality of life for people. 

Spark says it was excited to have a commercial 5G network up and running in Auckland, with coverage across Britomart, the Viaduct, Commercial Bay and Wynyard Quarter, as well as in North Shores Takapuna.  

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