The Role of 5G in Public Security: 10 Significant Ways
5G plays a vital role in ensuring public security.
5G is a fifth-generation wireless technology that brings three new things to the table: wider channels (speed), lower latency (responsiveness), and more bandwidth (the ability to connect a lot more devices at once). In areas with limited coverage, public safety network operators can apply advanced antenna systems, together with beam forming techniques supported in NR to increase signal strength in a particular direction to better serve MC communication needs in an area. Integrated access and backhaul (IAB), a multi-hop wireless backhaul relaying feature introduced in NR Rel-16, is also a very good candidate for flexible network coverage extension for public safety. In the future, public safety network operators will be able to set up flexible temporary networks by mounting portable IAB nodes on emergency land vehicles, referred to as cell-on-wheels IAB, and even on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), i.e., cell-on-wings IAB, such as drones to provide coverage to isolated areas.
Although some networks currently provide dedicated access to first responders, data communicated through those channels aren’t always easily shared with the 9-1-1 call centre or other public safety officials. 5G enables new architecture for 9-1-1 centres so that they receive data in real-time, improve visibility of first responders’ locations, and dispatch more effectively. Additionally, 5G will pave the way for easy access to data from smartphones, smart devices, and smart homes, if they are part of the network.
Public safety will also break free from communication limitations. In addition to voice and text, 5G’s speed and reliability will facilitate the easy transmission of videos and documents — whatever first responders and administrators need to quickly and efficiently do their jobs.
Situational awareness and operational efficiency
Acquiring situational awareness is key for first responders arriving at a rescue site. This information is used to help first responders better assess and plan an ongoing operation, making sure they can do their jobs safely and efficiently. One important component of situational awareness is the ability to locate first responders and/or the equipment being used throughout a rescue operation. The current NR specification includes both device-centric positioning solutions and network-aided positioning solutions. A first responder can share their position, signal measurements, and/or relevant information from sensors with the network or with other first responders. Additionally, the 5G network can provide direct positioning support, by transmitting downlink positioning reference signals (PRS) for example or measuring on uplink sounding reference signals (SRS).
Caring for patients in rural or remote areas is a challenge for health professionals. 5G not only supports applications that give doctors quick and reliable access to large files such as medical records and imagery; it also provides wider coverage. Telemedicine for people who are currently underserved and off the grid will finally be feasible. 5G can also connect first responders directly with ER doctors who can use real-time video to guide in the field. In addition, 5G has the speed and bandwidth to support virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) that first responders may find helpful in emergencies in which they must provide care.
When a major emergency occurs in a small area, there can be a high demand for mission-critical traffic for supporting first responders’ rescue operations on site. At the same time, the data traffic generated by general public users can increase significantly, for example, making emergency calls, sharing information with friends or relatives. If first responders and general public users share the same network, higher priority must be given to the first responders to ensure a fast connection to the network and to secure MC traffic during incidents of network congestion. In some cases, different priorities between different first responders and different MC services are also required. These requirements can be met by utilizing different NR features and functionalities to restrict regular users from accessing the network (as illustrated in Figure 3), together with different traffic management solutions for users that are already connected to the network.
5G allows networks to give priority to emergency vehicles as they travel and it does it with much greater efficiency than any system now used with 4G. Traffic control systems with 5G can connect with each vehicle on the road to create the current network and control traffic signals to maintain traffic flow and clear the way for emergency vehicles. Whether during an emergency or just a busy rush hour, traffic control systems supported by a 5G network can also communicate with drivers’ onboard navigation systems to help them find the best route. Additionally, 5G lays the groundwork for quick, reliable data sharing necessary for safe assisted driving and autonomous vehicles.
5G provides law enforcement officers immediate access to information that now takes minutes or hours to retrieve, such as vehicle registrations, background checks, and identity confirmation. In addition to quick access to data, it can also enable first-responders to transmit voice data to applications that decrease paperwork they need to complete after an incident. Additionally, robots have begun to play a critical role in police or firefighting operations. They can surveil areas, access confined spaces, and enter toxic or dangerous environments, performing tasks that would be extremely dangerous for a human to do. 5G enables reliable remote control of robots in emergencies and real-time access to the video or sensor data they’re collecting.
The effectiveness and quality of surveillance systems will improve with 5G, enabling higher-resolution data to transmit in real-time, the deployment of more cameras and devices, and highly controlled systems that leverage drones or autonomous vehicles. Furthermore, the speed of 5G integrated with the edge capabilities of MEC can enable systems that take action when people cross perimeters or breach security, for example, by triggering alarms or notifying authorities.
First responder groups
First responders typically work in groups and communication within their groups is essential for efficient coordination during an emergency. Services such as MCPTT, MCVideo, group messaging, and the broadcast of emergency messages allow these personnel to communicate within their groups. A common characteristic of these services is that a common set of data needs to be transmitted to all the users within a group, as shown in Figure 2. It is therefore beneficial to transmit this data to a group using a minimum set of resources to reduce the spectrum and time needed as much as possible. The resources can instead be used to serve more first responder groups and other users.
Cellular networks offer features and mechanisms to make the network resilient to failures and to provide ultra-reliable communications. The cellular network typically relies on a core network to host services and manage a network of base stations that enable communication between users. In the case of a natural disaster, the connectivity between the base stations and the core network can be lost, making these base stations incapable of serving the users. To make the network resilient to such events, the functionalities supported by the core network can be enabled at each base station or a subset of the base stations. The IOPS solution – a feature standardized in LTE and to be introduced in NR. It allows a single base station or a group of base stations to serve the first responders independently of the core network when needed.
As we have presented in this blog post, 5G NR offers several powerful and flexible features that can secure reliable communication for the public safety community. The 5G NR networks can not only provide basic voice and data services, but they also open up new, flexible deployment solutions and innovative services. This will improve coverage, accessibility, and resilience of the networks, and provide improved communication capabilities and situational awareness for first responders.