Preparing for and Using 5G in Public Safety
By Ana Robnik
Monday, November 02, 2020 | Comments
In a future powered by 5G, the world is expected to look very different. The 5G platform promises to be a catalyst for a technology and digital revolution that will take place across various industries, redefining collaboration, operational and business patterns, and user experiences. Service and application landscapes across a host of sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, energy, public safety, transport and smart cities, will be immensely impacted.

Most notably, emergency response organizations and public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) professionals require emergency and mission-critical networks which 5G enables for efficient operations and most importantly, to save lives.

This life-changing future is on the horizon, GSMA expects 5G will account for as many as 1.2 billion connections by 2025. With demand for the technology only growing, operators are under increasing pressure to scale and advance their existing networks to deliver the critical low-latency and high-speed connectivity 5G use cases demand.

Preparing for 5G
5G offers unrivalled advancements such as much higher throughput and ultra-reliable and low-latency communication to unleash a massive internet of things (IoT) ecosystem. They are the foundation for a variety of use cases, including augmented reality and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). With great power, though, comes great responsibility as a host of industries will begin to utilize and rely on this technology. Redefining consumption patterns and user experiences, 5G will lead to paradigm shifts in the service and application landscapes.

To provide this level of reliable connectivity, operators need to not only expand their infrastructure but also advance their existing networks to deliver the critical low-latency, and high-speed connectivity 5G use cases demand. To do this, they must adopt a 5G ecosystem that supports flexible business models and opens up new service categories. This ecosystem should be able to apply the new standards, endorse open source technology and also support mobile and fixed services effectively. Migration strategies should address existing narrowband and broadband mobile technologies to form a unified heterogenous network. To ensure quality of service (QoS) and service level agreement (SLA) for a variety of traffic types on the same physical network infrastructure, 5G network slicing and multiaccess edge computing capabilities are some of the most advanced and promising 5G novelties.

Operators build or are members of 5G ecosystems working in partnership with equipment vendors and specialists with extensive experience across specific verticals in order to meet and satisfy various customer requirements, including operational and business needs. Industries and government sectors require 5G networks and services that are notably different from those traditionally deployed by operators. The differences include reliability-related QoS parameters and quality of resilience together with user experience tailored to the special operational needs.

Telecommunications have a long tradition of facilitating coordinated actions by government-regulated services, such as emergency response organizations and first responder services. The use of 5G technologies could enhance situational awareness and improve the overall operational picture. Factors such as national regulation and legislation highlight the growing need for generic solutions, which can be tailored and adapted effectively to local specifics. Local governments look for tailored solutions that mid-capital systems integrators specialize in, as well as technological and operational interoperability and an openness to standards.

Public-safety use cases
As a part of the European Union (EU)-funded 5G Safety research project, broadband provider Iskratel, with its partners and end users, identified five use cases including automatic data context transmission when calling 1-1-2, establishing a video call between a citizen and 1-1-2 operators, remote assistance services to first responders, heterogeneous communications, and drone search and rescue.

The interconnection of systems using different technologies for mission-critical communications ensures a more efficient group operation of emergency services and first responders. The project can enable the exchange of all viable data for actionable insight from mission-critical services and applications for citizens, emergency response professionals in control rooms and first responders in action. The solution provides remote assistance services to first responders who can talk through an established communications system to obtain immediate consultation from an expert. The advice can include handling injured persons or dangerous goods and guiding within the facilities.

In the event of an earthquake in a mountainous area, a telephony system that fits in a single rucksack can be deployed in a matter of minutes. This can connect to a drone that brings the relay antenna high up in the air and powers connectivity to a swarm of other drones that can be used to survey the area for survivors. When 5G Safety services are powered by an in-a-box network architecture, the advantages include a lower cognitive load in a time of stress to provide the necessary information and a higher chance of survival.

Services such as dispatcher as a service (DPaaS) offer dispatching and coordination services for control room personnel, for dispatchers at on-site missions and other experts with a user-centered set of mission-critical services combined from voice, data and video to support operational communications, build the common operational picture and improve situational awareness during response, recovery and prevention activities.

As 5G technology continues to advance tremendously, the innumerable benefits on offer will be felt by a host of industries and government sectors. For operators, this means building a unified heterogeneous network for various application and service needs that can be deployed in the most efficient way. In the public-safety sector, interoperability and access to more complete and accurate information in real-time will lead to a greater awareness of the situation, and therefore faster response and shorter rescue times.

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Ana Robnik is a telecommunications consultant and 5G Safety Co-ordinator at Iskratel.

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