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The Evolution of Public Safety Emergency Call Services (and How to Roll Them Out)

By Arnaud Legrand

It is critical that emergency services and public safety facilitate a transition to broadband LTE-based emergency services networks. The use of multimedia architecture will be required.


Emergency response centers (also known as public safety answering points [PSAPs]) face more responsibilities today than ever with the growing complexity and scale of emergency incidents and the availability of new technologies. As cases become more complicated, police, fire and emergency medical services must be able to collaborate faster and more seamlessly. With the availability of new data sources and rich media, such as video from smartphones, it is critical that emergency services organizations can make use of this information to improve preparedness and make faster, more informed and effective operational decisions.

For example, a call reporting a fire in an old industrial area might come in to a local emergency response center. The person calling was just passing by, but has also started recording video of the fire in progress. Unfortunately, as with many PSAPs, this one is only equipped to handle voice calls. As a result, the caller has to describe the situation and answer follow-up questions. When the first responders arrive, they find a rapidly escalating situation and have to call for backup and additional equipment. Their lack of real-time situational awareness costs more time and increased property damage.

Emergency response centers carefully monitor answer-and-dispatch times. Firefighters train constantly to improve turnout times and cities plan carefully to keep travel times to industry standards because, in public safety, every second is critical. In this type of environment, it only makes sense to use the wealth of information already made available by smartphones, closed-circuit television (CCTV) and rapidly proliferating smart city sensors to provide first responders with all the information possible around the situation to which they are responding. This is one way public safety communications are evolving, and multimedia is playing a critical role.

Moving With the Times

Reconciling NENA i3 and the IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) by harnessing the underlying roots in session initiation protocol (SIP).

An end-to-end view of public safety communications systems extends from a citizen’s first point of contact with the emergency services agency to the wireless communications units operated by responding emergency services workers. In the middle are call centers, incident command centers and supplemental consulting resources (e.g., a medical facility or hazardous materials information center) that assist in phases of the emergency response.

Unfortunately, today’s emergency services face a number of challenges across this continuum. First and foremost, aging infrastructure is based on out-dated wireline time-division multiplexing (TDM) infrastructure, which is underpowered for multimedia traffic — especially video — and difficult to scale when traffic volumes increase during a crisis. Meanwhile, citizens are increasingly accustomed to broadband services that allow them to use text, images and video to communicate. As a result, they expect PSAPs to be able to receive these kinds of communications, when many are not.

Initiatives are underway worldwide to enhance the kinds of information that can flow across this end-to-end continuum of emergency response. For citizen access to emergency service resources, as in the example above, next-generation 9-1-1/112 architectures are now being designed for data-rich engagement with smartphones and computer systems.

On the responder front, officers and emergency personnel often carry multiple devices to access the information they need in the field. This need to be able to send and receive video and images, and the related increasing data volumes, is creating further challenges.

Fortunately, new mission-critical LTE mobile wireless networks offer a data-rich link to the emergency responders in the field. New mission-critical networks, such as FirstNet in the United States and the Emergency Services Network in the United Kingdom, ensure that voice, video and data traffic reliably flow to emergency responders — even when a cellular network is under heavy load because of a local crisis.

Two Models to Consider

Two models are being adopted by these next-generation services for how to architect an emergency network capable of handling data-rich media: NENA i3 and 3GPP IMS.

NENA i3 — The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) has developed the i3 standard to support the evolution of E9-1-1 systems to an all-IP-based emergency communications system in North America. NG9-1-1 enables the public to request emergency assistance via voice, real-time text, images, video or other multimedia data. It also enables PSAPs to share this rich information with emergency responders in the field to provide 360-degree situational awareness, shorten response times and improve incident management.

Various public safety and industry bodies have developed the standard over the past 12 years in accordance with the unique characteristics of North American emergency response networks. Here are some of the key benefits provided by the NENA i3 standard:

·      It is the universally acknowledged basis for public safety deployments of NG9-1-1 systems and was used as the basis for Europe’s NG112 standard during various pilot programs.

·      The industry is producing products and services based on the i3 standard and dozens of RFPs have been issued by public safety agencies for i3-compliant equipment.

·      Several U.S. states have deployed i3 transitional solutions on a statewide level and are planning the deployment of i3 compliant solutions to enable multimedia emergency services.

·      Canada has adopted the i3 standard and is planning to have NG9-1-1 networks ready to provide NG9-1-1 voice service by June 2020.

IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) — IMS is also not a new standard. It has undergone over 15 years of development with substantial work completed by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), which sets the standards for LTE technology and 5G wireless communications. It has been heavily pushed by the largest telecommunications infrastructure vendors and service providers and has become the de facto standard for voice services over LTE.

IMS is the glue that bridges multimedia services across heterogeneous networks and is generally regarded as a core component of virtually all next-generation, IP-based communications. The deployment of IMS-based networks and systems now allows end users to share voice, video, text and photos regardless of the device, service provider and access network (fixed or mobile).

To provide a sense of scale and growth of IMS users, in 2017 there were 939M IMS-based subscribers worldwide, with 78 percent of those from mobile services. By 2018 that had grown to 1.4 billion, with 85 percent of those from mobile services. The number of worldwide IMS subscribers is forecast to grow to 3.6 billion by 2022. Given its wide adoption by telecom providers and users, IMS provides an almost universal platform for handling emergency services communications. It is already in use by some national public safety broadband networks such as FirstNet in the United States, SafeNet in South Korea and the UK Emergency Services Network.

Blending NENA i3 and IMS — Fortunately, between the two standards, it isn’t a case of either-or. Both standards have similar roots in the session initiation protocol (SIP), which is the basis for all voice over IP services and IMS, as well as being the roots of NENA i3. It is feasible for NENA i3 to make use of functional elements in IMS with the upgrade of older routers that are approaching end of life. It will gain economies of scale associated with a global standard in use by virtually all mobile users, and with the evolution to 5G, many future wireline services. This will ensure interoperability across local, regional and national next-generation 911/112 emergency services networks.

Conclusion

Emergency service networks today are undergoing a massive revamp. Technology available in the commercial and consumer sectors is providing critical information to emergency services, but the infrastructure on which emergency services currently run are not always capable of processing information submitted via smartphones, applications and communications mediums besides telephony.

Next-generation 911/112 and mission-critical LTE are the key pillars supporting next-generation emergency services. Both are required in order to access critical incident and collateral information from both emergency callers and collateral sources such as traffic data and environmental sensors. They are also needed to submit this information to the emergency call center and route to emergency responders in the field.

It is critical that emergency services and public safety entities facilitate a transition to broadband LTE-based emergency services networks. To do so, these networks must be built using multimedia architecture such as the NENA i3 standard or IMS. With this telecommunications infrastructure, emergency services can access vital data from citizens, provide a better platform for communications and improve the capabilities of emergency response networks resulting in fast time-to-incident and more efficient use of resources.

Because the technological and operational requirements of agencies globally are unique, no one solution fits every agency. It is a complex decision dependent on many factors, including the vendors that the agency is working with and what technologies and architecture partner agencies or surrounding governments are implementing. Ultimately a comprehensive assessment of vendors and their offerings, collaboration opportunities with potential partner agencies and rigorous cost-benefit analysis must be undertaken before approaching a mission-critical LTE network implementation.


Arnaud Legrand is the head of marketing in Nokia’s Public Sector, where he leads marketing efforts to educate government entities on the advances and benefits of telecommunications to improve the services they deliver to their citizens and businesses.

 

Companies Join to Bring 5G to the Factory Floor

Finish 5G maker Nokia and Japanese wireless carrier NTT DOCOMO are conducting 5G joint field trials at the factories of OMRON, a Kyoto, Japan-based global specialist in manufacturing automation.

The trial follows the increasing demand for wireless communications at manufacturing sites driven by the need for stable connectivity between IoT devices. As background noise from machines and the movement of people have the potential to interfere with wireless communications, the trial will aim to verify the reliability and stability of 5G technology deployed by conducting radio wave measurements and transmission experiments.

“Combining five different digital technologies — autonomous robots, mobile computing, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and machine learning — could deliver additional average market capitalization of just over billion for a company,” according to a report by Accenture.

During the trial, Nokia, DOCOMO and OMRON will aim to establish the feasibility of the concept of a layout-free production line with Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). As product cycles become shorter due to fast-changing consumer demands, manufacturing sites are under increasing pressure to rearrange production lines at short notice. By taking advantage of 5G’s high speed, large capacity, low latency and ability to connect multiple devices, the trial will see AMRs automatically conveying components to the exact spot where they are required based on communication with production line equipment.

“Exploiting technology breakthroughs in fields such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics is significant on its own. But what really turbo-charges the impact is seeing them work in concert to super-accelerate the pace of change of industry 4.0, bringing enormous benefits,” according to The Future Factory.

The trial will also leverage 5G connectivity for real-time coaching using AI/IoT. Machine operators will be monitored using cameras, with an AI-based system providing feedback on their performance based on an analysis of their movements. This will help improve the training of technicians by detecting and analyzing the differences of motion between more skilled and less skilled personnel.

“Manufacturers are set to benefit from the stable, lower-latency and higher throughput wireless connections that come with 5G, which allow them to truly embrace the Internet of Things,” John Harrington, President and CEO, Nokia Japan. “Production lines will be more flexible and adaptable, and productivity on the factory floor can be more easily improved. We are dedicated to helping manufacturers enable this Industry 4.0 vision.”

ANTEL, Nokia Make First Commercial 5G call in Latin America

Nokia and ANTEL, the Uruguayan state owned operator, successfully completed the installation of the first 5G commercial network in Latin America. This network deployment started in the Barra de Manantiales area, Maldonado Department, where the first 5G base stations are operational and ready to provide services. ANTEL showed the ultra-low latencies and high speeds of 5G to local authorities and press at a launch event, using a virtual-reality sports application called “penalty kick.”

Nokia and ANTEL have a long and important partnership in delivering mobile, IP and optical services to the Uruguayan market. They continue to work closely together in delivering the full commercial deployment of the 5G radio network. Nokia’s services expertise plays a key role in deploying 5G networks and the team worked closely with the ANTEL team to deliver this demonstration for Uruguay.

Andrés Tolosa, president of ANTEL, said: “We are very proud to be the first operator in Latin America to set a 5G network into commercial service. This milestone is in line with our strong commitment to the development of the industrial and entertainment sectors as well as a great impulse to application development. We are a worldwide reference in FTTH networks and pioneers in providing our subscribers with state-of-the-art mobile networks. This great step towards 5G, with Nokia’s support, enhances our technological ecosystem. Once again, we confirm our technological leadership in the region.”

Vodafone Idea Chooses Nokia for Next-Gen LTE in India

Vodafone Idea Limited has partnered with Nokia to deploy single RAN Advanced, 2X2massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) and small cells.

Nokia’s Single RAN solution simplifies network installation and management, and the deployment of massive MIMO technology will enhance capacity and speed. Further, the installation of Nokia’s small cells will supplement operator’s macro network and ensure improved coverage and capacity, both indoors and outdoors, in line with the HetNet architecture to enable their next generation networks.

Vodafone Idea Limited is also deploying dynamic spectrum sharing (DSR) to make the most productive use of the spectrum and is extensively utilizing ultra-broadband radios UBR radios to further lower opex per site and ease the deployment challenges.

Dedicated Private LTE Network ‘Drives’ Autonomous Trucks

Komatsu America, a heavy equipment manufacturer, has qualified to operate an autonomous haulage system (AHS) using private LTE mobile broadband technology, a first for the mining industry.

Komatsu’s FrontRunner AHS allows unmanned operation of ultra-class mining trucks, which are designed improve mine-site safety, reduce costs, and increase productivity.

The company completed a year-long qualification program on Nokia’s Future X infrastructure. The industry is moving away from less predictable wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, and toward private LTE networks, that improve security, capacity, and overall performance within a multi-application environment, according to a Komatsu official.

In November of last year, Nokia unveiled “Future X for industries,” which is a strategy and architecture to increase productivity across industrial sectors. The strategy, which will span both advanced LTE and 5G will exploit multiple technologies including industrial internet of things (IIoT), distributed (edge) cloud, augmented intelligence, augmented and virtual reality.

Kathrin Buvac, president of Nokia Enterprise, said, “Private LTE is a key element in the Nokia Bell Labs Future X architecture to help industries such as mining create an intelligent, dynamic, high-performance network that increases the safety, productivity and efficiency of their business.”