Post Hero Image: Solar powered smart streetlight

California has a long history of leading the country in environmental protections and green innovation. It currently leads the country in solar-powered energy and by 2030, California aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below emissions levels in 1990. But reaching these new goals will take assistance from an unlikely source — the Internet of Things (IoT).

Precision watering. Smart lighting. Intelligent utility use. These are just a sampling of the IoT solutions that enable energy conservation. According to researchers, these smart solutions could create $1.8 trillion in revenue for the U.S. economy by cutting consumption and saving the average consumer hundreds of dollars a year.

While IoT solutions like these exist on current 4G networks, the next generation of wireless networks will support even more connected devices at much faster speeds. This new network technology, 5G, creates near-instantaneous connections between devices, allowing real-time collection and analysis of information. Faster speeds are possible because 5G will use new infrastructure in the form of small antennas (called “small cells”) placed discretely throughout communities on utility poles, lamp posts, and buildings. Proposed legislation would further enable California’s ability to conserve energy through IoT, by deploying the latest wireless network technology available. But that will only happen with your support, go here to stay informed. 

These IoT solutions can be as small as individual household devices that track consumption and as big as a nationwide smart grid. For example, cities in California have launched several initiatives to curb water consumption during the recent drought. Santa Clarita was able to save more than 180 million gallons of water in 2014 by using IoT sensors in the public irrigation system. In Pasadena, IoT technology helped residents save water by using WaterSmart, an app that tracks water use and encourages water efficiency through behavioral changes. Pasadena Water and Power started maintaining online Home Water Reports for consumers and notified them of their water use.

In San Diego, smart streetlights equipped with sensors that detect motion, dim when pedestrians are not around, and get brighter when someone walks nearby will save the city an estimated $1.9 million per year. The City of San Jose used an IoT system called Enlighted to put sensors in fixtures in City Hall to dim, brighten, and turn on or off lights based on peoples' presence and the amount of ambient light coming through the windows, ultimately reducing the lighting bill for City Hall by 53 percent.

And there’s more — 5G will also facilitate self-driving cars, which could reduce emissions by 40 to 90 percent, according to a report by Deloitte.  According to a report by Accenture, 5G also will improve the ability to monitor and forecast energy consumption, reducing unnecessary electricity peaks and ultimately reduce energy costs.

Unfortunately, there are major hurdles to building these small cell antennas in California because of prohibitive zoning and permitting laws. But there’s an effort underway to change those laws. New legislation in the California State Legislature will ensure a smoother and faster path to upgraded wireless networks in our communities — networks that will facilitate these essential IoT solutions that help keep our communities safe, preserve resources, and grow our economy. To make sure the bill passes and California communities gain access to advanced networks stay informed by going here or signing up below.

California has always lead the country in environmental protections and green innovation. Now it can continue leading through the launch of 5G.