February 2, 2023
Dr. Robert Hampshire
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and Chief Science Officer, U.S. Department of Transportation
Vice President of Spectrum Policy and Regulatory Counsel, Qualcomm Incorporated
Senior Vice President of SBU Connectivity, HARMAN International
Vice President of Civilian and Shared Services and Chief Technology Officer, AT&T
Tech Policy Reporter, Bloomberg Government
The rapid advancement of digital technology offers a unique opportunity for the transformation of the public and private sectors. In the infrastructure industry, in particular, promising real-world applications of emerging technology can drive innovative growth toward a better world.
At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Digital Transformation Summit, Maria Curi, Tech Policy Reporter for Bloomberg Government, sat down with four technology experts from the public and private sectors. The panel discussed how emerging technologies can improve infrastructure and transportation, the safety of the adoption of new technologies, and the regulatory landscape around them.
5G Evolves Current Infrastructure for Efficiency and Added Value
With the advent of the smartphone only 15 years behind us and 5G overtaking infrastructure today, technology continues to innovate at a breakneck speed. According to Chris Smith, Vice President of Civilian and Shared Services and Chief Technology Officer at AT&T, we stand at the precipice of the 5G decade.
“We're really just hitting the surface today out in our cities … we've been talking about smart cities for a very long time [and] we're just beginning to see the true value of these,” he said. “We're seeing driverless cars, autonomous vehicles … [advancements] in our surgery rooms and operating tables … [and] extraordinary precision agriculture [for] better control of our water systems.”
Ram Iyer, Senior Vice President of SBU Connectivity at HARMAN International, agreed, noting 5G’s applications will converge toward solving real consumer problems that will impact the safety of consumers at large, particularly in the next decade.
“The satellite, which is often not talked about as much, is not commercially attractive yet, but certainly, it's going to ensure that the connectivity is going to be far more [advanced]," Iyer added.
Other use cases for 5G include solutions to the climate and safety crises, improving business models and infrastructure in underserved and overburdened communities, and various terrestrial and space applications.
‘Safe Streets and Roads for All’ Aims to Combat the Ongoing Safety Crisis
Dr. Robert Hampshire, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and Chief Science Officer at the U.S. Department of Transportation, said the U.S. is in a road safety crisis: Nearly 43,000 people died in vehicle crashes last year, with countless others hurt or seriously injured. The Department of Transportation is taking leadership to move the needle towards its goal of zero fatalities with the help of innovative technology.
“[We now have] $800 million in a program called Safe Streets and Roads for All,” explained Dr. Hampshire. “This first part is planning and prototyping, but to really address safety, [we need to work] across different modalities. So the physical design changes [behavior], and yes, technology is part of that as well.”
With the grants, government officials hope to innovate across transportation tools — from vehicles to light systems, to communication between cars, and even alert systems for emergency response teams in times of crisis.
And, Iyer added, the next step will be to bring in a level of socioeconomic equity that will bring technologies mainstream — massive adoption will define the success.
Streamlining Infrastructure Brings Cities Into the 21st Century
With respect to deploying emerging technologies and the necessary regulations surrounding them, John Kuzin, Vice President of Spectrum Policy and Regulatory Counsel at Qualcomm Incorporated, noted that “the FCC has done an amazing job streamlining deployments of wireless infrastructure, and many cities have enabled very streamlined processes [as well].”
“Unfortunately, not all cities and local jurisdictions fall into that category,” explained Kuzin. “It's something that [needs to happen] to bring their city into the 21st century and have it be competitive to attract new businesses, support existing businesses, [and] make their city a hub of innovation and connectivity.”
“There are still things that can be done, and I think [cities] can learn lessons from the more successful areas that have enabled this deployment of wireless infrastructure for all the technologies that we're talking about,” he added.