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October 11, 2019

Safe and Sound: Wireless Technology & Public Safety .

Safe and Sound: Wireless Technology & Public Safety


Luke Kopetsky

When a firetruck or police car drives by, you probably don’t think of the remarkable technological tools these first responders use to save lives— many of which are powered by wireless networks.

Let’s explore how the wireless industry is working to equip public safety units with game-changing technology.

Reducing emergency vehicle accidents.

Ambulances are involved in 6,500 accidents every year in the U.S., and police officers on the job experience motor vehicle accidents at double the rate of the general public.

To address this problem, TomTom and Verizon are working together at the Mcity Test Facility in Detroit to explore how 5G-enabled traffic lights, intersection cameras and connected cars can be leveraged to reduce emergency vehicle accidents. The two companies aim to develop a system that can share precise location information sourced from connected devices at intersections with approaching emergency vehicles in real-time, which operators can use to avoid accidents.

Keeping the public safe with the Internet of Things (IoT).

A combination of wearables, sensors, cameras and other internet-connected technologies are being used by public safety departments to enhance their efforts in a variety of settings.

In Chicago and Miami, police departments are utilizing technology that uses an array of smart acoustic sensors to identify gunshots and isolate their location. In Sea Isle City, New Jersey, cameras and sensors are being used to monitor flood risk. Electronic flashing road signs are automatically activated to alert drivers when the flood risk is high.

Drones to the rescue in emergency situations.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) like drones can get information to first responders faster in an emergency.

Drones equipped with cameras are increasingly being used in search and rescue situations to scour areas that may be difficult for people to access. In January 2019, a search and rescue team in Utah used a drone to locate a 60 year-old hiker stranded on a ledge.

During the Camp Fire 16 Northern California emergency responder agencies worked together using a team of drones to map and track the fire, which helped them develop and implement their containment strategies.

Advances in wireless technology have helped spur the development of tools public safety officials can rely on. As next-generation wireless devices and networks roll out across America, we look forward to seeing how 5G will enable a whole new generation of public safety innovations.

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