“It’s not about your phones. Imagine robots moving around at high speeds doing work in a factory, that’s what 5G connection can give,” said Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chief digital officer Gerald Lim Kim Meng.
It will allow thousands of sensors over a vast area to rapidly feed information into a system that can instantly make decisions.
Using the example of Penang’s public CCTV cameras with facial recognition technology for police to look for criminals at large, Lim said a 5G network would allow that to happen at a grand scale to aid police work in a way never before possible.
“The cameras can be programmed to pan and keep track of recognised faces by itself. At night, it can be made to detect movement in quiet streets and zoom in or follow the moving objects by itself. It can alert and send images to enforcers’ handphones.
“This is called massive machine-type communications, not that the machines are massive but the amount of data going through is.
“The 100-megabit connection in 4G will become congested with so much data. For 5G, the speed is almost one gigabit,” he said.
When there is a congestion in 4G, he said there will be a latency of about half a second between transmission and reception.
“In the case of robots zipping around in the factory, a 0.5-second latency will cause them to crash into each other,” he said in a press conference held by state local government committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo recently.
To show Malaysians how 5G will change their way of life, Jagdeep said MCMC has chosen Penang as a demonstration site for how the ultra-fast communications network can be applied in manufacturing, tourism and smart city applications.
Kedah, Perak, Terengganu, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur are also selected to demonstrate other applications.
He said telco companies will demonstrate applications such as smart traffic lights, smart parking, remote medical consultations, vehicle tracking and 360-degree live video surveillance in Penang.
“Our state is a great site for such demonstrations because we have already started 22 smart state initiatives and six are successful while four more are in the pipeline.
“We can upgrade these to work in a 5G environment,” he said.
Among the smart state initiatives already rolled out here are the Penang Digital Library and Islamic Library, which is the first in Malaysia, smart parking system, public CCTV surveillance with facial recognition technology to track criminals at large and smart bus stops.
“The theme for Penang’s goal to be an international-class smart state is ‘Data is King, Talent is Everything’. So, we are gunning for it,” said Jagdeep.
On the need to build 5G communications towers, Jagdeep said 25,000 researches over 30 years worldwide have led World Health Organisation to declare that there is no evidence to show health effects arising from exposure to low ranges of electromagnetic frequencies.
“Besides, numerous tests by Malaysia Nuclear Agency have also proven that the frequencies are well within safe levels.”
State works committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari, who was also present, said the state engages and listens to all complaints, “but we have to base our decisions on proper facts and evidence.”
“We receive various types of complaints; some are reasonable and some are not.
“For example, one particular complainant said he began getting headaches whenever he opens his window ever since the tower was built. But in his case, the tower was not built yet!” Zairil added.
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