Every stakeholder should be at the table: industry, city officials, businesses, and most importantly, the local community, to support the expansion of the local 5G network. Photo via Getty Images

We live in a digital first world where the need for fast, reliable connectivity is not just something people want--it’s a necessity.

Connectivity plays a key role in every facet of life from economic development to public safety. Tomorrow’s innovations will rely on today’s infrastructure. That means cities and states must keep their eyes and efforts firmly fixed on the most up-to-date technology and prepare for modern wireless services, including 5G technology, the fifth-generation wireless system, in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Many of us have seen television commercials and internet ads touting the benefits 5G will bring, particularly as it relates to speed and reliability. But 5G is much more than speed. It will pave the way for innovation across a broad range of industries, injecting trillions into the global economy and ultimately changing the way we work, get around the city and live our lives. 5G connectivity will be able to process mass amounts of data with little to no latency, a requirement for the technology of tomorrow.

The economic impact will also be significant. A report from Accenture found that 5G will greatly benefit the Texas economy in the next five years, bringing Texas an estimated $235.8 billion in additional sales, $130.5B in new GDP and 1.35M in potential jobs.

Cities that embrace this coming technological boom will find themselves better prepared to tackle challenges and address the needs of their residents. Take public safety for example: 80 percent of 911 calls originate from mobile devices, which rely on a network of infrastructure – towers, small cells and fiber. 5G will enable seamless data transfer between first responders and dispatchers, including the exact location of a call as well as medical history to EMS. It will create a seamless network to properly communicate to other emergency services like fire and police departments. An estimated 10,000 lives could be saved each year if emergency response times were reduced by one minute.

Relevant to Pasadena are the transformations 5G will bring to healthcare and manufacturing. 5G is revolutionizing advanced training for medical professionals and allows more remote post-acute care and home-based models as well as enhanced communication between medical professionals. This will ultimately drive better patient outcomes and cost savings greater than 30 percent. 5G will also increase capacity and security for Pasadena’s wide variety of manufacturers, from chemicals to electronics to food and textiles, as well as create safer, smarter and more efficient processes that will drive continued innovation.

The full potential of 5G requires communications infrastructure–towers, small cells and fiber—and modernized regulations from local and state governments. Without the right infrastructure and policies in place, communities in Texas - like Pasadena - won’t have access to the innovative technology and benefits that 5G will embolden.

Research has found that 78 percent of Texans support their city leadership taking faster action to implement 5G technology. Yet Pasadena city officials have spent countless hours and financial resources since September 2020 fighting a lawsuit to prevent 5G installations in this community. Those dollars could have been spent on real community needs like infrastructure, utilities and public works. Pasadena is now behind its peers across the greater Houston area, where we have witnessed thousands of successful deployments of this necessary communications infrastructure. This puts Pasadena at a disadvantage as a great place to do business and improve the lives of residents.

It’s time for Pasadena to embrace the smart city infrastructure of the future. Other Texas cities like in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, or even neighboring La Porte, have initiated smart policies that have encouraged connectivity in their communities as well as investments from industry. Unfortunately, Pasadena’s connectivity and infrastructure are being impeded by local politics. Every stakeholder should be at the table: industry, city officials, businesses, and most importantly, the local community, to support the expansion of the local 5G network.

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Scott Dunaway is a spokesperson for the Texas 5G Alliance.

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Innovative coastline project on Bolivar Peninsula receives federal funding

flood mitigation

The Galveston’s Coastal Barrier Project recently received federal funding to the tune of $500,000 to support construction on its flood mitigation plans for the area previously devastated by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Known as Ike Dike, the proposed project includes implementing the Galveston Bay Storm Surge Barrier System, including eight Gulf and Bay defense projects. The Bolivar Roads Gate System, a two-mile-long closure structure situated between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula, is included in the plans and would protect against storm surge volumes entering the bay.

The funding support comes from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and will go toward the preconstruction engineering and design phase of Ecosystem Restoration feature G-28, the first segment of the Bolivar Peninsula and West Bay Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Shoreline and Island Protection.

Coastal Barrier Project - Galveston Projects

The project also includes protection of critical fish and wildlife habitat against coastal storms and erosion.

“The Coastal Texas Project is one of the largest projects in the history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” says Col. Rhett A. Blackmon, USACE Galveston District commander, in a statement. “This project is important to the nation for many reasons. Not only will it reduce risk to the vulnerable populations along the Texas coast, but it will also protect vital ecosystems and economically critical infrastructure vital to the U.S. supply chain and the many global industries located here.”

Hurricane Ike resulted in over $30 billion in storm-related damages to the Texas coast, reports the Coastal Barrier Project, and created a debris line 15 feet tall and 40 miles long in Chambers County. The estimated economic disruption due to Hurricane Ike exceeded $150 billion, FEMA reported.

The project is estimated to take two years to complete after construction starts and will cost between $4 billion and $6 billion, reports Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Houston organization selects research on future foods in space health to receive $1M in funding

research and development

What would we eat if we were forced to decamp to another planet? The most immediate challenges faced by the food industry and astronauts exploring outside Earth are being addressed by The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Space Medicine’s newest project.

Earlier this month, TRISH announced the initial selection for its Space Health Ingress Program (SHIP) solicitation. Working with California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Baylor-based program chose “Future Foods for Space: Mobilizing the Future Foods Community to Accelerate Advances in Space Health,” led by Dr. Denneal Jamison-McClung at the University of California, Davis.

“TRISH is bringing in new ideas and investigators to propel space health research,” says Catherine Domingo, TRISH operations lead and research administration associate at Baylor College of Medicine, in the release. “We have long believed that new researchers with fresh perspectives drive innovation and advance human space exploration and SHIP builds on TRISH’s existing efforts to recruit and support new investigators in the space health research field, potentially yielding and high-impact ideas to protect space explorers.”

The goal of the project is to develop sustainable food products and ingredients that could fuel future space travelers on long-term voyages, or even habitation beyond our home planet.

Jamison-McClung and her team’s goal is to enact food-related space health research and inspire the community thereof by mobilizing academic and food-industry researchers who have not previously engaged with the realm of space exploration. Besides growing and developing food products, the project will also address production, storage, and delivery of the nutrition created by the team.

To that end, Jamison-McClung and her recruits will receive $1 million over the course of two years. The goal of the SHIP solicitation is to work with first-time NASA investigators, bringing new minds to the forefront of the space health research world.

“As we look to enable safer space exploration and habitation for humans, it is clear that food and nutrition are foundational,” says Dr. Asha S. Collins, chair of the SHIP advisory board, in a press release. “We’re excited to see how accelerating innovation in food science for space health could also result in food-related innovations for people on Earth in remote areas and food deserts.”

Clean energy nonprofit CEO to step down, search for replacement to begin

moving on

Greentown Labs, which is co-located in the Boston and Houston areas, has announced its current CEO is stepping down after less than a year in the position.

The nonprofit's CEO and President Kevin Knobloch announced that he will be stepping down at the end of July 2024. Knobloch assumed his role last September, previously serving as chief of staff of the United States Department of Energy in President Barack Obama’s second term.

“It has been an honor to lead this incredible team and organization, and a true privilege to get to know many of our brilliant startup founders," Knobloch says in the news release. “Greentown is a proven leader in supporting early-stage climatetech companies and I can’t wait to see all that it will accomplish in the coming years.”

The news of Knobloch's departure comes just over a month after the organization announced that it was eliminating 30 percent of its staff, which affected 12 roles in Boston and six in Houston.

According the Greentown, its board of directors is expected to launch a national search for its next CEO.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank Kevin for his efforts to strengthen the foundation of Greentown Labs and for charting the next chapter for the organization through a strategic refresh process,” says Dawn James, Greentown Labs Board Chair, in the release. “His thoughtful leadership will leave a lasting impact on the team and community for years to come.”

Knobloch reportedly shifted Greentown's sponsorship relationships with oil companies, sparking "friction within the organization," according to the Houston Chronicle, which also reported that Knobloch said he intends to return to his clean energy consulting firm.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.