5G communications are coming to your PSAP. The next questions probably are “when and what will 5G mean to our current technology and operations?” In the United States 5G is being rolled out nationwide. Generally speaking Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile started the buildout in 2018. Each of the carriers are currently selling commercial 5G compatible phones and other devices. 5G offerings to public safety agencies for mobile data, wireless voice communications, for example are also being offered. The benefits from 5G communications to PSAPs, police, fire and EMS departments has been written about in industry magazines and spoken to during numerous conferences and webinars. Below is a brief highlight of the main benefits.
Faster Transmission of Large Amounts of Data—Expanded wireless bandwidth communications will mean up to 20 gigabits a second download and up to 10 GB a second upload. The increased speed will mean that managing the uploading and downloading of body worn camera data or surveillance camera data, or other big data applications such as drone or Smart City information, can be transmitted faster. Faster speeds will potentially allow for faster response and could increase the use of video by police and PSAPs. The increased use of video in PSAPs and other public safety agencies will undoubtedly require operational changes to video management and its use within the departments. The transmission of video between PSAPs and mobile data devices will be faster and very likely lead to expanded use of video in the communication of responses.
The effect of this additional component within public safety communications will mean that the mobile data devices must be compatible with 5G. This will mean that departments will need to start planning and budgeting for new devices. In addition, the use of drone-based video will be available faster to incident commanders, real time crime centers, and PSAPs. One concern that has been identified with the expanded use of video within the PSAP is the potential of the psychological impact on telecom-municators viewing of an incident in real-time. 5G will also mean extremely low latencies in the data transmission process. Latency refers to a computer network’s ability to process a very high volume of data messages very quickly, with minimal delay.
Public safety response is time critical. During an active incident that involves a building collapse, an active shooter, or a search and rescue situation, the ability to quickly access video and data related to the scene, such as building drawings or mug shots, is extremely important. Reliable and fast access to the data will be more important than ever. 5G has the potential for providing the means for improving emergency medical response, especially in rural areas. The EMTs and Paramedics in a “Connected Ambulance” will be able to use a combination of AI-based wearables utilizing 5G communications to communicate with the staff at the hospital, and to reduce the impact of vehicular traffic while in transit to the emergency room from an incident.
As the 5G networks continue to roll out, public safety will find many opportunities to take advantage of 5G’s capabilities in the next 2-3 years. As public safety increases its use of drones, body worn cameras, artificial intelligence, and other forms of Big Data, these new technologies, ranging from drones to connected ambulances, could help emergency workers deal with fires, hurricanes, bombings, active shootings and medical emergencies. Winbourne Consulting can provide advice to your agency on preparing for 5G and its potential impact on your operations and technology base. Winbourne Consulting can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.