The Inexorable Path Towards the Gigabit Society


The 5G City

Today's contribution is by our partner, the Vodafone Institute.

The advent of the gigabit society will only be a matter of time – even though its technologies already look like props from a science fiction movie: connected cars, automated factories, pizza delivery drones, gigantic virtual reality worlds for gamers, and medical robots operating at the scene of an accident, controlled in real-time by surgeons miles away.

This view of the future promises many benefits, as well as challenges. Discussing and critically illuminating future technologies has been the task of the Vodafone Institute, again one of the sponsors of re:publica, right from the start. The main focus this time: the panels "5G City" and "Tech Innovation in Health", and the theme park PORTALS.

The 5G City

Countries like South Korea and China, but also Portugal and Estonia, already rely on huge fiber glass networks today. Most recently, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced that the first large 5G network in the world would be rolled out in his city by the year 2020. But what does that mean exactly in terms of urban infrastructure? And what does that imply for policy-making? Which are the frame conditions needed to make the gigabit society a reality? Will gigabit cities eventually leave the megabit cities behind? How can Berlin in particular secure its status as a start-up capital? And how do we want to design the city of tomorrow? The panel talk "The 5G City" will provide some answers here.

Tech Innovations in Health

The future of healthcare is no less complex. Big Data or Augmented Reality, for example, already offer unprecedented opportunities even today. The course of certain diseases can be analyzed in greater detail, and therapies can be applied more effectively. Will we be able to detect epidemics much earlier in future, so that they may be prevented right from the start? Will cancer soon become curable? The experts on our panel, "Tech Innovations in Health", will discuss what the future of medicine might look like in practice.


Shared_Studios from San Francisco is a multidisciplinary art collective that wants to dig "wormholes into the world". New technologies allow for communication across all kinds of borders and barriers, but all too often, we use them to barricade ourselves in to our own cultural or ideological communities. Shared_Studios is working to embed these technologies in the physical world, enabling unique, meaningful encounters between different strata of society. In a container they will be building an "Internet you can walk through". Read more on the Portals project at re:publica over here.

About the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communication
The Vodafone Institute for Society and Communication concerns itself with the question of digital and mobile technologies, and the ways in which they increase political, social and economic participation as well as open access to educational resources. As a think-and-do-tank, the Institute fosters dialogue between researchers, industry and policymakers. It devises projects of its own to this purpose, as well as initiating research collaborations and publishing studies and practical recommendations.

Photo credit: Vodafone