European Public-Safety Stakeholders Debate Broadband Challenges, Spectrum at PSCE Forum
By David Lund, PSCE President
Monday, December 14, 2015 | Comments

Public Safety Communication Europe (PSCE) Forum held its second conference of 2015 9 – 10 December, hosted by Cyber Security Oxford at The University of Oxford. In parallel, PSCE also organized a Horizon 2020 brokerage event 8 December.

More than 80 delegates attended across the three days, representing public-safety communications end users, ministries, network operators, technology developers and research organizations. Participants from 51 organizations travelled from 16 European countries to debate the future of public-safety communications.

The key conference themes were:
1) Debating the results of World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) — Is 700 MHz going to be available for public safety, by what means and by when?
2) What is the roadmap for public protection and disaster recovery (PPDR) 4G?
3) Will 4G transition to 5G? Do users have to start again? What new benefits will 5G bring for public safety?
4) The increasing deluge of social media and information exchange for emergency management: What are the challenges from a social, legal and ethical perspective?
5) Key challenges for the security and resilience of next-generation mobile broadband for PPDR.

A brokerage event focused on the possibility of solving problems through the funding streams available from the European Commission preceded the conference. Delegates learned more about Horizon 2020 and the topics open in the programs. Delegates were invited to prepare project ideas and present them for open discussion.

The conference began with the general assembly meeting where PSCE reports activity to its members and seeks approval on a number of operating issues, such as previous minutes, actions and budgets. Chaired by President David Lund, the meeting included introductions from new members Trilateral Research and Lancaster University.

The first presentation session and roundtable discussed favorable outcomes of WRC-15 with regard to PPDR use of 700 MHz spectrum and further steps required for each country to decide how this allocation will be implemented in each country. Attendees learned about spectrum allocation already made in France, made in advance of the possible rollout of broadband mobile in the country, which is expected to go live in 2017. A lively discussion with the auditorium closed that session.

The conference then investigated the roadmap to deploy interoperable broadband mobile for PPDR across Europe. SALUS, an existing research project that will yield demonstration activity in the coming months, was outlined, along with technology demonstrations made in preparation for the new Emergency Services Network (ESN) in the United Kingdom.

PSCE presented BROADMAP, a project proposal that intends to formalize the requirements, specifications and transition roadmaps for the procurement of next-generation interoperable broadband applications, services, networks and devices. An invitation was made to all end users to contribute to this activity should the project go ahead in 2016.

In the final session on 9 December, a roundtable discussion debated opportunities and technological developments surrounding active research aiming to define 5G. While new radio technologies are in development for 5G, discussion led to the understanding that new approaches to implement new “digital fabric” aims to bring together existing radio technologies into heterogeneous networks. “Slicing” of network resources allows for sharing of infrastructure to provide appropriate services levels, mapping to the requirements of the end-user applications. End-user applications are placed at the center of the service orchestration, with network function optimizations aiming to achieve the most efficient use of resources in the achievement of fulfilling the needs of end-user applications.

The next session of the day began with feedback from collaborative tasks carried out in the last two conferences. PSCE presented the outcome of the collaborative work to identify public-safety applications identified in previous conferences. Further analysis discussed issues relating to sensitivity of information, latency and bandwidth demands expected of broadband PPDR apps. PSCE plans a workshop in 2016 to bring together and discuss the work of other groups in consideration of PPDR apps.

Eight questions were outlined for delegates to debate in groups of five to seven people. Questions were posed surrounding the topics of the conference and the prospect of interoperable broadband for PPDR. Delegates recorded and handed back their discussion and answers. Results of the discussions are being collated into a white paper, which will be made available on the PSCE website and presented in a webinar early in the new year.

The conference proceeded with four presentations and a roundtable discussion covering the use of social media, information exchange in emergency management and the associated ethical, legal and social (ELSI) aspects that must be considered. Techniques for video and social media analytics were presented to allow for early detection of threats. Availability of tools for preparedness and response were studied, giving a comprehensive view of available tools, their capabilities and limitations. Trustworthiness of openly sourced social media information was widely discussed. The roundtable discussion sought to understand how the technological capabilities that were presented could be brought in to live use, and how ELSI should be properly handled, and not considered as a barrier.

Three presentations were made covering how the perspective of security and resilience should focus on the system as a socio-technical system, rather than as an isolated technical consideration. Future emerging cryptographic techniques, offering immunity to future threats to crypto, such as quantum computing and Shor’s algorithm, were presented. The prospect of quantum threat to crypto is evolving.

Key activities by the U.S. National Institute of Standards (NIST) were presented. The activities guide the protection of current and new networks and systems from such potential threats to crypto. The session concluded with a presentation stressing that resilience and service availability of broadband mobile networks is key to supporting PPDR operations. Focus was given to published statistics of poor system implementations and configurations. A method for resilience by design was presented with an aim to improve consideration for future mobile broadband applications, services, networks and devices for PPDR.

Airbus Defence and Space, ESRI and Motorola Solutions sponsored the event.

The technologies of the SAMI2 project, including live demonstrations of video analytics and social media technology, were demonstrated during the PSCE Forum.

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