Digital transformations have been ongoing for several years, as government increasingly embraces the efficiencies and capabilities that modernization offers. However, few will have as widespread of an impact as the adoption of 5G mobile broadband. This new standard is a potential gamechanger for how services are delivered and citizen experience, but only if government agencies are prepared when the technology becomes more available.
Implementing 5G will require planning and modernization roadmaps that consider the upgrades in IT infrastructure and staff capabilities needed to take full advantage of the additional bandwidth. So, while the technology is still in the deployment phase, what should government agencies plan for when 5G becomes ubiquitous?
Make infrastructure changes on-premises and in the field
The most immediate change government will face is updating existing IT infrastructure. Moving to 5G is an iterative change over 4G, so it won’t require a complete overhaul of legacy systems. One obvious need is to upgrade end-user devices, including everything from moving up a generation in smartphones – the iPhone 12 supports 5G, but the iPhone 11 does not, for example – to updating devices used in the field by emergency services or law enforcement. Routers and other network devices may need upgrades as well, although some may be done through software and firmware updates.
It’s also the time to have a conversation about adopting a cloud model. If your agency is working off a traditional data center, a cloud option supported by 5G may be a better option. Hybrid and private clouds are becoming more common in government, and public offerings tailored to public sector needs have made the 5G-supported cloud another viable option.
A more mobile workforce also means that IT operations will need to upgrade security and resiliency. Moving away from on-premises only means that there will be additional threats that must be accounted for. IT infrastructure must meet government security standards at every step and have platforms in place that will protect systems from data loss should a breach occur.
Upgrade staffing capabilities
Throughout any agency, staff will need to be well-trained on how to leverage 5G, how to operate the IT infrastructure that uses it, and what the technology means.
For IT practitioners, this will require knowledge of multi-access edge computing (MEC) and software defined architecture. MEC brings computing power closer to the user and enables low latency data delivery. Software-defined architecture uses the cloud to deliver scalable and agile services for a large number of users. Modern government IT operations must understand how these factors impact infrastructure and how to best use 5G. New programming languages will need to be learned and workflows updated.
Reshaping how government operates
Outside IT, agencies should create programs and services with 5G included in delivery strategies. New technologies, such as virtual reality, mobile-first design, and machine learning, have the potential to reshape how government services are delivered. 5G will help take services to the field, even in rural areas, drastically changing how agencies interact with citizens.
Public sector employees will need to understand new strategies that are drastically different from the traditional way of doing things. Entire programs could be altered. Services will have the option of being re-designed from the ground up to think mobile-first. Instead of forcing users to come to a central location, the government will be able to go to citizens, improving the quality of services.
Mobility will change as transportation gets smarter and traffic flow is optimized. Drones will better monitor infrastructure. Telemedicine, as seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, will become the norm. This is only if government agencies put in the legwork and planning to use 5G to the greatest extent possible.
Guiding government through the 5G digital transformation
Carahsoft understands how 5G will shape the future and how to navigate the government procurement process. We will work with your agency to understand your needs and deliver the right solution for your unique situation.
Speak to a Carahsoft representative today about leveraging 5G technology.