Cities of the future are being developed around you, leading to more efficiencies and conveniences, but they will require local and national support to continue connecting the needs of their residents.

Areas where traffic lights are better coordinated, autonomous cars are on the roads or water leaks are instantly detected are part of the smart cities that are underway across the country. With existing infrastructure that goes back more than a hundred years in some cities, the upgrades need urgent support from our local and national leaders in order to spur more innovation.

Companies like Qualcomm have developed the fundamental 5G technology, foundational inventions for manufacturers to incorporate into products, for these cities. As a result, just as people have gone from using CDs to requesting a song from Alexa, people will be seeing similar changes take place, but on a larger scale.

“It’s happening fast and its happening in a way that is fairly seamless, and you don’t think about it, but it is happening right now,” Raj Talluri, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.’s vice president of Product Management recently told the audience at a Washington Post Live Transformers Cities editorial event.”

Putting together an Internet of Things, which Qualcomm helps power with its 5G technology, brings all devices together in a coordinated way and makes everyday living extremely convenient for people. Just as having circuit boxes, televisions, dishwashers, thermostats and security cameras coordinated to make household responsibilities easier, cities will be able to bring together street lamps, water meters and stoplights and other infrastructure together for seamless progress.

The Washington Post Live panel on Transformer Cities at the editorial event was brought together to show how different industries need to become better coordinated to meet the needs of people who have grown to expect increased conveniences, even though many are still balancing how comfortable they are with the rapidly-changing technology.

Understandably, all the new gadgets enamor everybody. The prospect of driverless cars captures our imaginations, though the technology has a long way to go before it is safely mainstream, experts have said. The continued incentivization for innovation is needed to push this progress.

Recent studies have shown that there will be an influx of people moving into cities in the near future, meaning these upgrades will be necessary to accommodate all those new residents. Urban planners are working with technology companies, focusing efforts on getting people to remain downtown in urban settings, resulting in shorter commutes, fewer automobiles on the streets and more vibrant city living. With many younger people choosing to remain in urban settings long passed the age when they might be expected to move to the suburbs, the new efficiency will be needed to keep up.

Many people don’t even realize the changes that have started with the technology, Talluri told the audience at the Washington Post Live editorial event.

“You’re not going to wake up one day and suddenly find, ‘wow, my city is smart,’ or ‘my home is smart,’” he said. “It’s just going to be one of those things where gradually things get better and better and better and it just becomes seamless.”