Written by Svetla Tanova-Encke.
The planned deployment of 5G technology in Europe comes with many expectations, but also with some serious concerns. What do we know about the technology behind the fifth generation of mobile networks? What are the benefits for society and the economy? How will the new technologies be implemented and regulated? Does 5G have an impact on our health and on the environment? Is 5G a security risk?
The new 5G digital knowledge map from the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH; https://map.sciencemediahub.eu/5g) addresses this complex topic in a new interdisciplinary and interactive way. It looks at the new technology from different angles: from the technology itself and the politics surrounding it, to business, health concerns, cybersecurity and impacts on society. The idea is to present all these aspects and the interlinkages among them as objectively as possible in a wider context.
An interactive, playful way to explore a complex issue
The vast content, equivalent in terms of size to an 80‑page publication, is presented in a visual, interactive and non-linear way, allowing the reader to explore the information across different layers.
At first glance, you will see an overview of the map with all its parts. (5G technology, regulation and politics, economy, health concerns, and impact on society). From this first level, zoom in to click on in-depth information on your chosen topic. The details can be found in 81 different explanatory ‘bubbles’. These highlight scientific findings wherever possible and for full transparency, provide links to a total of 488 sources.
The map is enriched with 11 interviews (the majority in video format) with experts in the different fields. Nine infographics complement the content visually. Finding specific information is made easy through a search bar and table of contents, and a glossary explains the technical terms. The ESMH team worked with many knowledgeable experts, including within EPRS, to ensure the information is trustworthy. The map was produced in cooperation with Kontextlab (Munich, Germany), who developed software combining the visual structures of mind and concept maps with multiple layers and a content management system, to build and publish digital knowledge maps. Their expertise lies in using new techniques to explain complex topics in the most accessible way for a general audience.
What content can you find in the different sections?
This section explains the technological details. This part of the map presents the 5G system, the underlying technological components and key services made available by 5G from a technical point of view – such as Massive Machine Type Communication or Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication. Several infographics illustrate technical aspects in detail.
Regulation and politics
In this important section, the map covers policy-making, the standard-setting process and the related work at the European level. The international relations and cybersecurity aspects of 5G are also explained here. The map includes interviews with several policy-making, international relations and cybersecurity experts.
This section shows expectations related to businesses and jobs. The map explores what 5G means more concretely for the future of e.g. e-health, smart cities and smart factories, self-driving vehicles or augmented virtual reality.
A major part of the map is dedicated to health concerns. Here, the main takeaways from two STOA studies (recently completed) dealing with the impact of 5G on health and the environment are incorporated. The aim is also to illustrate the scientific discussion and link it to the currently available knowledge – from researchers and from entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), or the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
Impact on society
Here, we explain the positive expectations, as well as the concerns around 5G technologies. Experts discuss the relationship between technologies, people, democracy and data protection. In this section, you will also find information about the phenomena of conspiracy theories and misinformation.
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