Florida Is Embracing the Future of Autonomy

With our strong growth and attractive business climate, Florida needs to plan for tomorrow’s future today. By 2030, the Florida Chamber Foundation estimates that Florida will have another five million new people that call our state home, three million new drivers on our roadways, and tens of millions of new devices that will plug into our data network. As these technologies grow in number and complexity, the amount of data each individual uses will also increase dramatically.

In addition to the forces that we are familiar with, Florida is leading the charge on the adoption of autonomous vehicles. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has boldly declared their intent to make Florida the autonomous capital of the world. With our good laws on the books and openness to innovation, Florida has already welcomed six self-driving vehicle deployments across the state in places like Miami, Gainesville, Babcock Ranch, and the Villages. These new and transformational technologies have the potential to save thousands of lives and safely transport millions of goods and services, while unlocking incredible job opportunities for Floridians. But each of these vehicles will also create and use a tremendous amount of data.

Fortunately, private-sector businesses have created a solution: compact devices with incredible data capacity over a smaller range called “small cells.” These devices, working as a system, are the next generation of communications infrastructure. Companies in Florida are already installing small cells, but this 5G deployment is not happening fast enough to ensure Florida is able to cement its position as a global leader.

Simply put, in order for Florida to remain a leader in autonomous vehicles, smart devices, and the next generation of jobs, we must continue to push for the deployment of 5G across Florida. To make that happen, network carriers, infrastructure builders and local leaders must partner together to bring 5G to Florida.

Earlier this month, business leaders, industry experts and elected officials gathered for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2018 Florida Growth & Infrastructure Summit, where Florida’s future infrastructure needs and solutions were discussed. Leaders took a deep dive into the role innovation plays in Florida’s future. In partnership with the Society of Automotive Engineers, the summit also offered experiences to the public to take a drive in an autonomous vehicle and interact with the next generation of virtual reality.

In order for Florida to embrace these new technologies and future growth, we must build the digital highways of the future. That starts with more small cells.


Chris Emmanuel, Director of Infrastructure and Governance Policy, Florida Chamber of Commerce

Malcolm Eve is Crown Castle’s Public Affairs Manager for the South Area and serves on the Florida Chamber of Commerce (Infrastructure Coalition-Chair of the Economic Prosperity Work Group).  Crown Castle owns, operates and leases more than 40,000 cell towers and approximately 65,000 route miles of fiber supporting small cells and fiber solutions across every major US market. This nationwide portfolio of communications infrastructure connects cities and communities to essential data, technology and wireless service – bringing information, ideas and innovations to the people and businesses that need them.


Florida’s Competitiveness in the New Economy

One of the most interesting national news stories over the past year has been Amazon’s quest to identify a location for its second corporate headquarters. Dozens of American cities and regions, as well parts of Canada, entered the sweepstakes to land the big prize. Recently, Amazon pared the list down to 20 “finalists.”

As one might expect, the list of finalists is quite diverse. All parts of the country are represented, as well as all types of climates – not just Mother Nature, but political, tax, and regulatory climates. However, there is one thought-provoking factor that all finalist cities have in common, which is a clear commitment to infrastructure development. More than tax levels and regulatory environments, it appears that a community’s investment in infrastructure is what truly coalesces the 20 finalists.

Many of the finalist cities have, for generations, made wholesale infrastructure investments in the foundational building blocks of the old economy. As a result, most have world-class highway systems, expansive commuter and commercial rail networks, and airports and seaports that support the movement of goods and services throughout their regions and underpin their local economies. But, it’s their investment in the modern economy (whether it’s the workforce of the future or the commercial highways of the future) that sets them apart. They are investing in the communications infrastructure that powers the digital economy, which is paramount for 21st century companies like Amazon who demand access to the best available services.

It is undeniable that the marketplace of the future lives online and will be driven by wireless connectivity. We are entering a world where almost everything imaginable, from retail to investing to healthcare delivery, will be dependent on the internet. In the past, consumers and commerce were connected by arteries of steel and concrete; now we are connected digitally through communications infrastructure systems consisting of fiber optic cables, towers, DAS networks, and small cell nodes which power our devices. Crown Castle is at the forefront of leading that change.

Our communications infrastructure will be critical to Florida’s efforts to lead in the new economy. We are working with state and local leaders and encouraging them to work together in concert with the builders of wireless networks like ours to streamline and expedite the deployment of next generation infrastructure that will serve to as the backbone for what’s known as the 5G network. We know that forward thinking in our approach to connectivity protects our future economic competitiveness.

The conversation at the local, state, and national level about communications infrastructure demonstrates how important it is to our economy, and even our national security. Crown Castle is partnering with communities across the state to build the 5G infrastructure that will help us compete in the economy of today and tomorrow.


Written by Crown Castle