China recently announced that it’s in the construction phase of the first 5G smart highway, or, “a city-scale system of roads capable of supporting cellular network-coordinated transportation services,” as VentureBeat’s Jeremy Horwitz defines it.

The system, being built in the capital of China’s Hubei Province by China Mobile, includes “smart toll stations” that eliminate toll transponders and human operators and also enable the real-time collection of traffic data that will allow China Mobile to make AI-assisted predictions.

China Mobile isn’t the first carrier to tout its 5G highway plans. South Korean companies SK Telecom, KT, Samsung, and LG U+ have been involved in 5G tests of self-driving cars. But with over 30 base stations and plans for an additional 2,000 throughout the year, Horwitz thinks it’s likely that China Mobile may be the first to move from the testing phase into actual 5G deployment.

A 2018 Deloitte report also places China first in the 5G race, stating, “Infrastructure spend and tower density distinguish China’s leap forward…[the country] is building network site density at an unprecedented rate.”

Regardless of who ultimately wins out in the “global race for 5G dominance,” we all should be excited by the opportunities the technology will afford us. Particularly for those of us in the data analytics industry, the possibilities that  smarter, more connected technology and predictive analytics open up are truly thrilling.

More widespread deployments of 5G will not only drive data-backed improvements to how we currently live and work but also point to new ways in which we can further improve these functions through the collection and analysis of additional data.