We live in a visual world. Many of us are used to thinking of video as a channel for entertainment, but where it really can make a difference is the area of mission-critical communications. Voice and text messages are traditionally used in emergencies, whereas video paints the whole picture much faster and more effectively, helping emergency responders establish the much needed situational awareness that guides their decisions. We also live in a world of data. Online information databases can greatly benefit emergency workers if they have rapid access to such information.
Think of forest fires. Fire fighters can use drones with attached video cameras, online maps, weather reports and data models of how the fire is advancing to make better-informed decisions in situations where time is of the essence. Command centers can access live data and video transmitted from different emergency responder units and combine it to get the helicopter view of the events as they unfold, and to initiate preventive actions faster.
All this is possible with LTE mobile broadband. In areas like public safety, this technology can in fact make a difference between life and death.
Last week, I had the occasion to attend Comms Connect event in Melbourne, Australia – really an exciting meeting place for Australasian critical communications community. There was a really nice buzz at our booth, and it was clear that there is great interest in LTE as the technology of choice for public safety.
Other discussions concentrated around the Australian government’s decision to purchase LTE access from commercial operators rather than assigning dedicated spectrum for public safety. This is a development that is taking place in many countries around the world, like recently in the UK.
It’s in the interest of telecom operators to be involved in the development of mobile broadband networks that meet the stringent requirements of public safety services. The opportunity to provide infrastructure for public safety communications is in fact a driver for improving the coverage and quality of the whole operator network – and it will ultimately benefit everyone, even consumers like you and me.
There is legitimate concern around how connectivity can be guaranteed in case of disasters and in rural areas. At Comms Connect, we showcased our Network in a Box, a rapidly deployable, portable solution that fits in the trunk of a vehicle. It quickly became the star of our booth. The visitors could see how our solution brings great advantage in conditions where emergency responders need to operate. They often have missions in areas where traditional mobile networks do not reach, or where an incident has compromised the coverage. With Network in a Box, they can establish connectivity in minutes, like we have demonstrated recently in a live search and rescue simulation in New Zealand.
When we think about the future, it is very important for national governments to become involved also in the international debate. Standardized LTE technology with harmonized spectrum across countries or regions will open the door for international collaboration. This could be in the field of collaborative emergency missions, public safety roaming services, and interoperability between critical communications solutions.
LTE is a reliable starting point for building a robust basis for mission-critical communications that scales for future purposes. It also helps establish the foundation for a later migration to 5G and IoT-based services. Nokia drives the standardization of these technologies to make sure that they are secure and reliable.
Ultimately, it’s technology that will creates an opportunity for us to build a safer world – and have real impact on people’s lives.
Visit our website to learn more about what Nokia and partners are doing to unlock the full potential of LTE for public safety
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