The Future of Critical Communications
By Mladen Vratonjic
Friday, June 01, 2018 | Comments
The effective delivery of critical communications is crucial to ensuring public safety and to enabling businesses to protect personnel and property during major planned and unplanned events. At the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution, the industry is looking to see how 5G, big data, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) can be harnessed to further enhance critical communications in the context of an ever-changing technological landscape.

5G Connectivity
5G will look to build on the foundation created by prior technology generations. There is much work going on to put in place the standards to enable mission-critical voice communications to be carried over 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, and it is expected that 5G connectivity will further enhance network capabilities and the operational capabilities of critical communications users.

Critical communications is the one area of telecommunications that needs to cope with various requests, services, speeds and unpredictability of required capacity. 5G is all about providing next-level flexibility, coverage, capacity, security, data rate and low latency. Therefore, it is the ideal network to deliver a wide variety of services across different environments in a highly efficient and robust way. For example, 5G networks will use context-aware mapping of services to technologies and will be able to make dynamic decisions on which resources to use to deliver each service, guaranteeing the appropriate level of service quality needed in the most efficient way possible.

In relation to machine-type communications (MTC), the main difference between 5G and the previous generations of mobile wireless systems is that 5G is principally addressing two generic modes of MTC: one is massive MTC (mMTC), which provides connectivity for large numbers of low-cost and low-energy devices in the context of the internet of things (IoT), and the other is ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC), which is the more innovative feature of 5G due to its low end-to-end latency and its potential as an enabler of a vast set of mission-critical applications, some of which are yet hard to imagine.

Artificial Intelligence
AI has become one of the breakthrough technological trends of 2018. AI is so prevalent it is expected to revolutionize the way workforces operate around the globe. Nearly every major industry has plans to use AI, with some sectors, including the retail, manufacturing and healthcare sectors, already having access to its practical application.

Critical communications is ripe for disruption by AI. As a sector it could benefit from the use of AI in a number of different spheres. Public-safety organizations, such as security services for example, or law enforcement and fire departments could all benefit from the potential of this new technology.

AI is capable of being incorporated into security systems such as image-scanning computers helping to identify potential suspects captured near crime scenes, as well as alerting the nearest police stations of potential crimes by picking up on unusual movements of trespassers at controlled locations.

TCCA member Motorola Solutions partnered with AI company Neurala, and the two are working on developing intelligent cameras for public-safety officers that can learn in real-time and automatically pick out individuals of interest. This goes a long way to reduce costs, time and effort of such activities carried out by humans, therefore increasing the operational efficiency of public-safety departments.

Big Data
Unlike the other technological advancements, big data isn’t necessarily a new concept. In fact, businesses of all sizes have been using big data to gain valuable information to help make their business goals more tangible for years. But the value of big data is all about how the information is analyzed and used, not necessarily about how much data is mined. Properly used, this data could be of great benefit to critical communications providers that can extract and use the information presented to them to determine the most appropriate actions.

The use of big data in some areas of critical communications has already been effective. Public-safety bodies, for example, have been using social media to relay messages to the public in pre- and post-event circumstances where a crisis has occurred. The key aspect is the use of big data in conjunction with social media to provide accurate and speedy communications to the masses, in the event of a major event.

Critical communications operators can gather the significant amounts of data available to them through social media so that it can be filtered and then analyzed. Operators can then incorporate the information into their messages to ensure that the most accurate and intelligent responses are delivered to the public. This illustrates why big data will have an important role to play in the future of critical communications, especially as the industry develops more advanced methods in using its data to deliver more accurate information.

Automation
The rise of automation has already streamlined processes and operations in various industries, making for greater efficiency. Automation can significantly reduce the need for human intervention, which can speed up processes.

Critical communication providers are incorporating automation into their processes. Major IT events can negatively impact a company’s business operations, which means that IT businesses must accelerate their IT incident resolution process.

TCCA member Nokia’s Integrated Operations Center (IOC) allows critical communications solution providers to transform operations at the command center through automated workflows triggered by critical alerts from pre-integrated tools that analyze incoming information.

The fourth industrial revolution will bring new benefits for the critical communications sector — a series of new and revolutionary technological advancements that have the potential to enhance this industry’s operational pedigree and lay the foundations for future developments. Artificial intelligence, 5G, automation and the increasingly efficient analysis of big data all have the potential to complement critical communications services. With each innovation bringing something different to the way critical communications can be enhanced, there can be no doubt that the fourth industrial revolution will significantly enhance the work carried out by public services professionals now and in the future.

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Mladen Vratonjic is the chairman of TCCA. He joined TCCA in 2015 and has 33 years of experience in telecommunications, including 10 years in public safety. He was formerly responsible for all telecommunications systems for the Serbian police and fire brigades, including the emergency call centers and Serbia’s public-safety TETRA network.



 
 
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Comments
On 6/7/18, Luvious Musonda said:
I am responsible for telecommunications in Zambia Police service. Reading your article it gives an impression that as a country we have a lot to do. Do have a plan for third-world countries?

On 6/6/18, Leon van der Linde said:
An interesting thing surfaced. The transito robberies in South Africa were made easier for the criminals due to the communications medium used by the transito companies. They use push to talk over cellular (PoC). The criminals use cheap jammers from China that can be secretly imported. They drive up behind the truck with a vehicle that cannot be identified and then jam the POC radio LTE PTT in the USA. They keep the jammer going and can then do what they want. The criminals on the other hand uses a two-way radio that is not blocked. When they drive off they switch off the jammer.
We did some tests and it seems that the FDMA technology NXDN is less susceptible to jamming in 6.25-kilohertz mode. Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) in 12.5 kilohertz mode is very susceptible to jamming.
I think the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) should look at this as the Chinese jammers can easily be brought into the USA and since America wants to use a technology that could bite them in the back during a crisis.
Just a mention take it or leave it.


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