How network connectivity fills the space between man and machine for public safety
Outdoors, indoors, above ground and below, in suburbs and cities, machines will act as 24/7 sentinels. In performing this task, they will require continuous network connections. Wearable high-tech devices, meanwhile, will be common accessories for public safety officers and citizens alike.
The deployment of robotics and autonomous platforms – land, sea and air – will become more common post-2020, and the use of wearables is also on the rise. Threats have been redefined by germs and social unrest, and people need technological advancements to shield them from harm in all areas of daily life.
We have all experienced dropped calls, online meeting issues, and prolonged uploads of essential documents. The frequency of such problems has increased with work-from-home and homeschooling demands. These glitches are caused by connectivity gaps in LTE and Wi-Fi that robotics just will not tolerate. One break in networking can cause robot or drone stoppage, mission-critical data loss, and impairment of public safety situational awareness.
Alternative networking solutions that extend Wi-Fi speed and capacity outdoors, in addition to delivering continuous mobile connectivity to enhance LTE, are available. No one technology does it alone. It is the “ecosystem” and “solution set” that enable frontline staffers to experience dynamic network resiliency and the ability to overcome shadowed areas.
Technology Offers a Helping Hand
For police and security services, a large amount of people gathering in one location can present significant public safety challenges. However, the evolution of modern technology offers authorities higher levels of dynamic visibility and a vastly improved view of the situation. This technological “leg up” enables officers to control crowds, manage traffic and save lives.
Blue light teams and security forces must set up additional coverage reliably and swiftly in locations where the existing infrastructure may not be up to standard or comprehensive enough for the application. Some events can include thousands of attendees, so security personnel must have access to wireless infrastructure that can provide secure and stable connectivity. Redundant and resilient network connections are essential for first responders as there is simply no tolerance for network failure.
Connectivity as a Lifeline
In emergency situations, every second is vital. Being able to track the locations and movements of responders, monitor conditions, and live-stream video footage from the frontline increases safety and effectiveness. Situational awareness is fundamental for organizations, and the limitations of restricted connectivity are manifold. The wrong wireless infrastructure can have dangerous results. It is crucial that teams on the ground, their vehicles, and command centers all have access to reliable and consistent connectivity.
Suppose public safety organizations could quickly deploy a wireless infrastructure to augment LTE and/or Wi-Fi with the connectivity they need. This would allow them to work at optimum efficiency and with peace of mind. When tasked with keeping the public safe, dependable communications should not be a worry. The network must have sufficient bandwidth to access files such as video, maps and aerial imagery. If existing networks lack this bandwidth, it will not only prevent emergency response teams from operating optimally, it could also endanger lives.
When implementing network enhancements, consideration must be given to whether they can systematically overcome complexities of environment, assets and manpower. Consider transmission speeds and whether network congestion slows things down. Are there blind spots or shadows created by complex infrastructure? At large events, operators can be faced with adverse network conditions, jammed radio frequencies and signal blockages.
Compatibility can also present more issues for emergency response teams. Often, they utilize a host of varying communication technologies for individual tasks. This increases the chances of incompatibility, which can lead to coverage gaps and fragmented visibility of incidents.
When implementing and deploying a new network, budget limitations may hinder an organization’s ability to utilize the most high-quality infrastructure available. Despite the challenges, though, it is clear that public safety teams cannot compromise when it comes to saving lives. Sometimes, radio systems cannot penetrate the environment due to obstructions, and this interference in reliable communications can adversely affect the outcome of a situation, whether it be a natural or manmade disaster or a surveillance operation.
Robotics Can Ease the Transition
As robotics become operational necessities, the ability to move and communicate is dependent on the network. Across cities and municipalities, having bomb disposal robots, surveillance drones, machine-to-machine and man-to-machine communications are essential in autonomous environments.
Deploying technology on mobile assets to communicate with cameras, manned vehicles, wearable Internet of Things devices and drones will provide responders with a much clearer view. Having drones and ground-based robots interconnected and controlled by one operator (or even no operator) is highly beneficial. If the machines have multi-frequency radios, it will allow them to liaise with the operator and one another seamlessly.
However, there can be resistance to integration of this remote capability into public safety operations. The need for additional training and expertise is significant, but so are the benefits, as robots can access hard-to-reach areas and diagnose issues quicker than a person or a team of people can. In potentially hazardous or challenging environments, launching drones and ground-based robots that can be operated remotely ensures the safety of personnel while maximizing their situational awareness.
Some organizations may resist change and look for alternatives to implementing new technologies. But now, as many adapt their daily lives and adhere to new social distancing measures, the acceptance and willingness to utilize robotics has never been higher.
This year will see the adoption of robotics soar because of the potential to reduce both operational costs and risk to personnel. Robots and the networks they run on need to be durable and ruggedized, and now they must be more tolerant to the likes of disinfectants in order for operators to sanitize equipment. In the health care field, specifically, robotics can free up precious resources and time for medical teams, ensure more accurate procedures, and enhance the ability to move hazardous substances.
In expansive open areas, a wireless network that can be rolled out swiftly can lay the foundation for drones to provide mission-critical surveillance. With networking options working together, drones can travel farther, provide more data points and be hardened against hacking.
Visibility for Smarter Decisions
By utilizing drones for greater visibility, security teams can swiftly navigate all parts of a site. This not only boosts security measures significantly by pinpointing threats, it can also process large amounts of data cost effectively and efficiently. The visuals relayed to the command center ensure that risks and incidents are detected. Drone swarms can also be used for security monitoring of wide-open settings.
Drones can supply the high-resolution imagery that organizations require in a much more efficient manner than deploying staff members across a site. With so many assets in motion, utilizing traditional wireless networks will prevent drones from being used optimally. Standard Wi-Fi connectivity will struggle to keep operations across a complex site covered. Typically, traditional Wi-Fi will present an increased risk of more coverage drops because of the challenge of interference. With a single connection, when mobile assets leave the range of the current fixed access point, they may lose connectivity and need to establish another route. This can result in dropped data packets, high latency and compromised performance.
Selecting the most secure and reliable wireless network infrastructure can ensure that public safety organizations reap the benefits that drones promise. Continuous mobile connectivity must be available for an operator’s full fleet of mobile assets. Having a high-capacity network guarantees the performance of bandwidth-intensive applications such as CCTV and machine-to-machine communications.
Making a Difference
The increased level of surveillance provided by robotics – on the ground, under the water and in the air – combined with high-definition video cameras and other sensors allow operators to cover considerably more area and bolster security. Equipping the human guard force with wearable technology ties them to other tech tools and one another in ways previously thought impossible. Access to reliable connectivity can make a stark difference in how successfully emergency teams operate. In tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving environments, the higher levels of visibility resulting from a fail-proof network will significantly benefit public safety organizations and the citizens they are charged to protect.