The topic of incorporating new smart technology in McKinney has surfaced over the last few months, and residents have mixed emotions.
McKinney City Council began discussions on implementing fifth-generation wireless technology during a work session April 22.
This technology, called 5G, is one of the fastest wireless communication systems available, according to a presentation given during the April work session. It would allow for the adoption of new industries, including autonomous vehicles, smart communities, higher data transfer rates and new industrial advancement.
Better wireless technology would help the city attract future developments to the area, Gary Graham, director of engineering for the city of McKinney, said at the work session.
Several residents have come forward at various City Council meetings since April to express concerns about 5G and its potentially harmful side effects.
In an effort to further discussions on 5G implementation, the McKinney Economic Development Corp. hired Technology & Infrastructure Specialist Mike DePaola last month.
DePaola said he plans to conduct “unbiased research” regarding 5G implementation and its effects on residents’ health, during an Aug. 20 MEDC meeting.
In order to be transparent with residents, DePaola said he will make his findings, no matter the results, accessible to the community.
“We don’t want to hone in on specific studies that say, ‘5G is great, smart cities are great’ … We want to present the whole range of topics, and we want to allow citizens and business owners to have access to what we are making decisions off of,” DePaola said.
Guiding principles for 5G implementation were adopted by the city during a May 21 City Council meeting.
“The two [principles]we are going to focus on in this plan are going to be enhancing the city’s economic development programs and … to ensure the health and safety of residents, guests and visitors in the city of McKinney,” DePaola said.
City staff is specifically looking to implement 5G technology along the SH 121 corridor, according to previous discussions.
This 5G technology, if approved, would be built onto a network of small cell poles, according to a presentation at the April meeting. Cellular providers are anticipated to have their own 5G networks, but they will need to partner with the city to install necessary equipment in high-demand areas.
Nothing has been built in McKinney yet in regard to 5G, DePaola said, but the city’s next steps include hiring a wireless implementation consultant followed by a public forum to engage with residents and business owners.
Dates have not been set at this time but are expected to be available in the next few months.