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Mission Critical Technologies


We recently met with IHS Markit to discuss their role in the industry and where they see the it heading.

We spoke with Thomas Lynch, Oliver Philippou, Ryan Darrand, Alex Richardson and Jesus Gonzalez-Medina who gave us great insight into their work.

Ryan, where do you see narrowband going in the next 10 years?

RD: Narrowband is a very large industry, with over 45 million users globally and we project that narrowband technology will continue to grow for the next 10 years in most parts of the world. Public safety is by far the largest part in the mission critical industry, and in the next 5 years LTE will start to be phased in, with LTE known as the backbone of a connected mission critical system. Deployments will shape advanced technology usage where data is indispensable.

What do you think will be the key driver behind LTE?

TL: LTE will come in two forms for our industry. Firstly, it will be via private networks that will provide dedicated access to mission critical users, secondly (and this is a very broad array of secondary options) this will form the basis of hybrid / commercial LTE in the form of mission critical applications and specialist network access. However, the drivers in reality are mostly the same. This is to ensure that our public safety has the best tools to facilitate the extremely important tasks they are undertaking. This for me is the key driver – having access to the technology that is truly going to make a difference to your operations. There will be a significant amount of applications over time that will deliver this. However, one key pressing application is video and the ability to utilise video either in real time or post event. This at the moment has limited capability via traditional narrowband networks and as such LTE (4G / 5G) offers an immediate scalable solution.

JG: Today, Public Safety LTE is being boosted by the need for interoperability and data in day to day operations. Many LMR operators are looking to integrate cellular services within their existing communications infrastructure and to enable cellular users and LMR users to communicate using the familiar push-to-talk services irrespective of the network of the callers. Public safety users are also leveraging the push-over-cellular system to communicate when they are out of the LMR network coverage area. Nevertheless, the days of LMR as the primary technology of voice communication for critical communication users are not over.

I believe that public safety LTE will work as an overlay to narrowband voice technologies such as TETRA and P25 at least until LTE proves it can handle adversity. It is important to consider the many factors going forward to ensure the sustainability of first responder’s nationwide broadband networks. Factors such as: cybersecurity, business models, protocols and training, cooperative partnerships, end-user perspectives and legislation. Are all influencing the way in which LTE and legacy communications will be used going forward.

Alex, you mentioned you specialise in safe cities. What has your research shown?

AR: Input from video surveillance cameras, sensors and security systems like access control all get merged together onto one central management system. This allows any decision making to become centralised and allows law enforcement to work together with other agencies like transport for instance. It gets an entire city working together, taking a truly ‘multi-agency’ approach to emergency response and allows them to have more visibility into operations and get things moving faster.

The decision-making process after receiving the data can vary, but typically we are seeing that it comes from the law enforcement side as to when a decision to do something should be made. In the US, it is more fragmented because sometimes it can be decided by a specific organisation and then at other times the local government. It completely depends on the government structure, policies and regulations.

But ultimately, new advanced surveillance systems enhance coordination, decision making and response times through real-time surveillance, video browsing, data sharing and evidence collection and that allows for a safer city.

TL: I would also add that over the past twelve months IHS Markit has been looking very specifically at the benefits of safe cities and how implementing the above technologies can truly make a difference. I have personally visited a number of safe city deployments and seen first-hand the difference this can make. As such we implemented a new index system measuring a number of key criteria including civil satisfaction levels, crime reduction, time to incident times and police effectiveness. What we have found is that where safe city implementations have been made the benefits are realised. I will be launching the global research findings during my presenting at CCW 2017.

JG: LTE networks will indeed be the future backbone of connected advanced mission critical systems. Technologies such as: UAVs or UGVs, body worn cameras, and intelligent video analytics will dramatically change how emergency or crisis situations are managed. From prevention to detection and investigation, these technologies will enable more efficient operations in complex urban centers. Just as an example, we are seeing today drones connected to LTE networks that stream back live video to command and control centers. They have become a serious asset to search and rescue missions. Meanwhile we are also seeing connected robots that have been used as a tool to disarm dangerous weapons (explosive ordnance disposal).

How important is the use of body worn cameras?

OP: We are currently working on developing a public safety report, looking into body worn cameras, drones, cyber security, VCA, and city surveillance. Within our current mobile video surveillance research, body worn cameras are specific to the law enforcement market. This market has had a lot of media attention in recent years, with large scale deployments such as the London Metropolitan recently ordering over 22,000 body cameras grabbing the headlines.

The actual camera technology across the various vendors is fairly similar, with the cameras generally able to capture about 2 or 3 hours’ worth of footage, 720 or 1080 resolution, and incident based recording. But the interesting areas of development is about how this footage is handled when the officer returns to the station after their shift, and whether the video, or evidence, is initially download to a local server, or an upload to a 3rd party cloud service. How the video is handled and used as evidence is crucial, and what we will start to increasing see is digital evidence management systems.   

Devices such as body worn cameras and sensors have been widely adopted, enhancing emergency capabilities and agencies’ accountability.