San Francisco has always been known as “The City”. But, soon it could be known as something else—a Smart City. A policy environment that’s welcoming to the infrastructure that supports next-generation wireless – known as 5G – will make this happen.

Smart Cities are connected communities that offer residents and businesses cutting-edge technologies and are expected to profoundly improve urban living in the coming years. Autonomous vehicles will ease traffic congestion and keep travelers safe. The Internet of Things will make our homes better places to live, our workplaces more productive, healthcare more available and effective, and the local economy more vibrant.

Smart City technologies depend on 5G, which is expected to be up to 100 times faster and five times more responsive than 4G, the current state of the art in wireless communications. To get this technology and the benefits that stem from it, the network must be built.

In the 5G world, small cells have a big role to play. Hundreds of thousands of small cell antennas —about the size of a backpack—will be placed on utility poles and other existing street infrastructure to ensure transmission of data quickly and seamlessly.

But before this buildout can happen, all levels of government – state, local, and federal – in the Bay Area must work together to reduce existing barriers to 5G deployment, such as outdated infrastructure permitting processes and cost-inhibitive fee structures. By streamlining the approval process for small cells, our local leaders and policymakers will not just advance 5G deployment in our community but also incentivize new investments.

In fact, reforming infrastructure policies to ready for coming 5G technology could attract an estimated $34.5 billion in new investment to California and add $68.9 billion to the gross state product. It would create over 51,000 additional jobs, in a wide range of industries, and boost employment earnings for California workers by almost $22 billion, according to the American Consumer Institute.

Modernizing these policies will also strengthen San Francisco’s role as a global high-tech leader. Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego have already partnered with companies like Verizon and Qualcomm to prioritize technology buildout that will benefit their citizens. Our area must follow suit or risk falling behind the pack, and we cannot sacrifice our leadership in innovation due to archaic permitting policies.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is also taking steps to lead the implementation of policies that will make it easier to deploy 5G. This includes streamlining outdated infrastructure regulations to minimize red tape and roadblocks. It also includes freeing up more spectrum, which is the invisible network infrastructure. These efforts by the commissioners help ensure timely deployment here and across the country.

Roslyn Layton is a Visiting Researcher at Aalborg University in Copenhagen, Denmark. James Wall of San Francisco is former the Controller & Treasurer AirTouch Communications.