Disaster Scenario Event Allows Public Safety to Test Emerging Technology
Wednesday, November 07, 2018 | Comments

More than 200 public-safety agencies this week are taking part in a technology demonstration and learning environment integrated with seven disaster scenarios at the Guardian Centers in Perry, Georgia.

Verizon and Nokia hosted the second annual event and provided the Long Term Evolution (LTE) network connection. More than 250 first responders, police and special weapons and tactical (SWAT) teams, and state and local government officials tested emerging technology designed to save lives in disasters and terror attacks. The technology included robots, delivery drones, gunshot detectors, internet of things (IoT) sensors, and a mobile surgical center.

In an abandoned, mocked-up neighborhood, emergency response teams are participating in seven simulated scenarios — an active shooter situation, subway tunnel explosion, flooding rescue, interstate pileup, helicopter crash, earthquake and a nuclear detonation.

More than 95 technology partners participated in the event to allow public-safety officials to test how the technology performs in a real-world scenario, said Nick Nilan, director, public sector product development at Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

Ken Morckel, director of law enforcement/homeland security services at consulting firm First Response Solutions, said the scenarios offer some training and show users what is possible with new technology. In the active shooter scenario, drones streamed video to personal devices for situational awareness and robots deployed smoke as a barrier for the shooter. Telemedicine applications also were used to allow physicians at a hospital to see video of injuries at the scene.

Nilan said the event allows public-safety officials to test priority and pre-emption against devices that weren’t operating on Verizon’s public-safety LTE core. He said Verizon has data plans tailored for drones and other technology that might use a high amount of data.

About 40 to 60 first responders participated in each scenario, rotating through all the simulated disasters throughout the week. Nilan said the interaction among the public-safety officials and with industry representatives was a key component.

He noted the importance of first responders maintaining interoperability as new LTE features for public safety roll out. Specifically he said priority and pre-emption should work across carriers, along with mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) and other applications.

Nilan said carriers need to come together and work through the technical pieces; public-safety groups such as the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), Public Safety Technology Alliance (PSTA) and Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) should lean on the carriers to ensure interoperability; and first responders must demand that all their technology works together.

Morckel, also the former director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, said first responders at an incident will be on more than one LTE network. “You can’t wait until we’re down the road to get these issues out in front,” he said. “By the time we recognize it, then it’s another year to solve it. Now is the time to look at this.”

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