Skip to Content

Driving efficiency in public safety: Integrating IoT with MCX broadband solutions to enhance accuracy, safety, and security

Patrice Crutel
May 13, 2024

The frequency and magnitude of environmental, political, and socio-economic crises are increasing, which requires enhanced interoperability among international and national public safety organizations, their users, and first responders.

To face these increasingly complex and broadcasted events, the enhancement of situational awareness and safety is a strong requirement. Voice-only communication services, currently provided by PMR technologies, such as TETRA and P25, are no longer sufficient for public safety users, agents, and dispatchers to exchange advanced situational information that is crucial in an emergency. The more multimedia information public safety users receive, the better they can coordinate their actions to protect people and assets, expedite rescue efforts, and improve accuracy, safety, and security.

Broadband technologies can help by boosting the capabilities of public safety organizations. 4G/5G Mission Critical Communications (MCX) is now ready to surpass the current PMR capabilities and even improve them with ultra-reliable data and video. Public safety authorities must modernize their communications infrastructure to drive innovation and advanced value-added services. Technologies like drones, robots, wearables, and IoT devices have made a considerable impact in recent years across a variety of use cases and situations. Emerging innovation like the metaverse and generative AI will present even more opportunities through enhanced situational awareness.

Communication is paramount in an emergency. By integrating rich media and data into control rooms, public safety agencies can leverage unprecedented insight and visibility into their daily activities. This new technology offers improved information, enabling the creation of more efficient response plans that can adapt in real-time to evolving events and emergencies.

Improving public safety with IoT devices and applications

Here we offer a series of examples of how IoT devices, when integrated with MCX broadband solutions, can improve public safety:

  • A fleet of drones equipped with high-definition cameras and thermal sensors, enabled by AI, can quickly monitor and survey large disaster scenes, public gatherings, and other areas in real time. This can improve planning and response times of public safety users, ultimately leading to better outcomes for the public.
  • Wearable sensors can monitor first responders, such as firefighters, transmitting vital health data to dispatchers and alerting them when personnel need assistance. This information can also be shared with neighboring public safety leaders immediately, without the need for manual intervention.
  • Autonomous robotic devices, like robots and vehicles, fitted with high-definition video and sensors, are deployable in high-risk environments. They can assess situations and potential dangers to public safety users, facilitating the creation of more effective action plans. Augmented with AR/VR technology, these devices enhance understanding and situational awareness by complementing on-site surveillance, leading to a more robust comprehension of conditions.

Improving situational awareness with wearables and drones

All the aforementioned technologies and devices can assist public safety agencies with fundamental activities, such as navigating emergency events like building fires, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and storms. They can also consider external conditions, such as weather and gas presence, as well as the 3D plan of the building and its equipment for increased situational awareness. These inputs can facilitate better decision-making among first responders and dispatchers.

Here we explore some additional examples of how advancing technologies can improve public safety efforts:

  • In the case of a forest fire, wearable sensors can monitor and protect public safety agents in action and quickly detect when people may be in danger. Fleets of drones can enable better visualization of the fire and account for conditions such as wind and event cartography. This will enable dispatchers to locate public safety users and people in need of assistance, optimizing resources to improve response capabilities and save lives.
  • In the case of earthquakes or tsunamis, a drone fleet can quickly assess the situation, detecting people in need of help and their circumstances. This information will help dispatchers better coordinate actions, based on the location of various public safety users, and quickly reach a specified location. It will also consider external factors such as cartography.

Enhancing operations with AR/VR, digital twins and the metaverse

The metaverse, augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), and digital twins serve as invaluable tools for public safety users during sudden emergencies, enhancing response capabilities and facilitating swift actions. They can provide comprehensive analyses of the environment and provide inputs on how to better handle the situation. These technologies can also assist public safety agencies in training and preparing users to handle emergencies effectively, enhancing preparedness for situations that may be rare or challenging to simulate in the field.

Using digital twins and/or generative AI, agencies can emulate a real-world environment in a virtual replica and optimize training, as well as the actions of users. It can also be used, based on specific location images and contextual information, to reconstruct how an event occurred.

4G/5G as an enabler for innovation

Leveraging the MCX feature in 4G/5G enables seamless voice, data, and video sessions among individual users, groups, or dispatchers. Further innovation is possible thanks to the deployment of APIs that allow integration of new software applications that can improve the productivity and safety of first responders.

These innovative applications include features like automatic voice translation for users speaking different languages, facilitating communication between groups from diverse foreign organizations, such as during large wildfires involving public safety agencies from different countries. Additionally, they offer voice transcription and automatic report generation from various data sources for enhanced user efficiency.

Taking the next step in public safety communications with Capgemini

As environmental, political, and socio-economic crises escalate, the need for enhanced interoperability among public safety organizations is becoming even more important.

Traditional voice-only communication services are no longer adequate for exchanging advanced situational information in emergencies. Broadband technologies like 4G/5G MCX offer the potential to surpass current capabilities and improve efficiency with ultra-reliable data and video. Integration of drones, robots, wearables, IoT devices, and emerging innovations like the metaverse and generative AI further enhance situational awareness.

By modernizing communications infrastructure and embracing these advancements, public safety agencies can achieve unprecedented insight and visibility, facilitating more efficient response plans that adapt in real-time to evolving emergencies.

To learn more about how your organization can evolve and advance your public safety communication capabilities with IoT and MCX, please contact our authors below.

Join us at the Critical Communications World 2024 to explore more on the topic.

TelcoInsights is a series of posts about the latest trends and opportunities in the telecommunications industry – powered by a community of global industry experts and thought leaders.

Co-authors – Nazirali Rajvani | Sylvain Allard | Fotis Karonis | Pierre Fortier

Meet the author

Patrice Crutel

Technology & Platform strategy Director at Capgemini Invent
Patrice is an expert in the Strategy of Evolution towards 4G/5G, IOT, PMR, Multimedia