In Senate Hearing, Cantwell Discusses Power of 5G Technology, Highlights Spokane’s Cutting-Edge Smart Cities Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee hearing on 5G communications networks, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the committee, highlighted Spokane’s cutting-edge smart cities collaboration as a model for the benefits of 5G in the future. 

“I am all in for 5G,” Senator Cantwell said. “We need to continue to talk about the great applications that 5G will empower. That is why I’m so happy today that we have a witness from [Spokane’s] smart cities and innovation area to talk about exactly what this can do for our local governments.” 

Cantwell invited Kim Zentz, the CEO of Spokane-based nonprofit Urbanova, to testify at the hearing about Spokane’s smart cities technology and the opportunities presented by 5G to make cities more efficient and sustainable. 

In her testimony, Zentz highlighted Urbanova’s work in Spokane to explore ways to use 5G technology to improve day-to-day life for residents and find innovative solutions that can be applied in cities across the country. 

“What we are doing is leveraging the vibrant urban advantages of Spokane, Washington, to find new ways to make communities better for people,” Zentz said. “Our outcomes are focused on safer neighborhoods, healthier citizens, smarter infrastructure, a more sustainable environment, and ultimately a stronger economy, because we believe, and we have a stake, in the ability of mid-sized cities to lead on issues like this.” 

In particular, Cantwell asked Zentz about how Spokane’s smart technology could be used to help conserve water. 

“Water is our most precious resource, and it’s interesting to note that it’s not priced as our most precious resource,” Zentz responded. “There are applications where… people can understand how you manage water like inventory. And so with the data… then applications that are related to 5G and other methods of getting data to the operators help us substantially reduce the water that is wasted.” 

Cantwell applauded Urbanova’s work and encouraged the continued integration of smart technology throughout the country. 

“That cutting-edge collaboration between Washington State University, the City of Spokane, and a group of innovators [is] already exploring ways to leverage technology and data analytics to move our cities toward a more sustainable future,” Cantwell said. 

When fully deployed, 5G technology will increase mobile internet speeds by up to 20x over current 4G technology, according to Qualcomm. And the benefits of 5G are not limited to mobile devices. 5G will enable smart technology and economic growth, serving as a platform for change in diverse areas like energy and water consumption, artificial intelligence, city planning, climate research, manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and how we all access and consume information. 

Senator Cantwell has long been a leading advocate for smart cities technology. In October 2017, she introduced legislation to provide funding to promote the advancement of smart cities throughout the United States. And in January of 2017, she announced a blueprint to integrate smart technology into urban areas around the country. 

Video from Senator Cantwell’s opening statement at the hearing is available HERE. Video from her Q&A with the witnesses is available HERE, and video from Kim Zentz’s testimony is available HERE.

About Urbanova

Urbanova is a nonprofit based in Spokane, Washington, bringing together leaders in utility infrastructure, smart metering and communications, higher education, energy efficiency, population health, and urban planning to create a smart city technology. Urbanova leverages the vibrant urban advantages of Spokane to find new ways to make communities better for people. Spokane’s 770-acre downtown University District is the living laboratory for scalable, replicable solutions that aim for outcomes measured by enabling healthier citizens, safer neighborhoods, smarter infrastructure, a more sustainable environment and a stronger economy.