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Managed Mobility for Emergency Services

diagram showing communications map for emergency services

Tech-driven Emergency Response gives a vital efficiency boost.

In the world of emergency services, communication is the backbone of every successful operation. Recent advancements in communication technology have ushered in a new era for first responders. These breakthroughs not only enhance situational awareness, coordination, and safety but are also accompanied by the importance of specialised Managed Mobility Services (MMS) that ensure devices are rapidly deployed, pre-connected, and ready for immediate use.

Emergency response on radio

These advanced communication devices play a crucial role in enhancing emergency response in several ways:

1. Real-Time Situational Awareness

Immediate access to data, live video feeds, and maps empowers responders with real-time situational awareness. They can make informed decisions and adapt their strategies based on the most up-to-date information, ultimately improving their safety and the efficiency of the response.

One example of this is the Team Awareness Kit (TAK) used by California Fire Services, which extends such features as video sharing, location tracking of fire equipment, fire perimeters from aircraft, and fire model forecasts right into the hands of firefighters in their appliances in the area of operations, using a combination of ruggedised tablets and appliance-mounted low earth orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity.

An even more exciting initiative is the Athena system used by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, which provides an operational prediction tool suitable for near-real-time use, using predictions modelled from actual fire behaviour research. In future, being able to couple this type of AI with inputs from frontline body-cam livestreams and wearable vitals monitors has the promise of providing near-complete theatre-wide situational awareness for both ground crews and commanders.

For law enforcement, the article Police Communications Are Changing provides a detailed look at what these new technologies look like specifically for police.

Emergency response on tablet and mobile device

2. Interoperability

Many of these devices are designed with interoperability in mind. They allow responders from different agencies and jurisdictions to communicate seamlessly during joint operations. This interoperability fosters collaboration and coordination, leading to more effective responses. This type of meshed communication enables much better coordination across an active operational area, for better resource usage and enhanced safety, but it does rely on uninterrupted low-latency comms links. Some jurisdictions operate their own Public Safety Network (PSN) dedicated-frequency radio systems, which provide interop at the channel and frequency level, usually over a Mhz radio band and/or Wi-Fi. In less populated or remote areas these can still be limited, however alternative connectivity options such as LEO satellite can leverage the investment in the existing devices where even Mhz radio may not reach.

3. Safety and Accountability

Body-worn cameras and vehicle-mounted camera systems contribute to the safety of responders by providing a record of their actions, as well as providing better operational visibility to commanders during multi-unit operations. In addition to enhancing accountability, these devices serve as valuable training tools for reviewing and learning from incidents. The use of other wearables is also increasingly being leveraged for emergency services purposes. Body-worn vitals monitors can immediately detect and report an officer-down situation, as well as alerting commanders when body stress increases abnormally, for example in life-threatening situations.

4. Remote Operations

Satellite communication and drone technology enable responders to operate in remote or disaster-stricken areas with confidence. They can stay connected to their teams and command centres even in the absence of traditional infrastructure. LEO satellite networks now often contains thousands of satellites and are close enough to provide high-bandwidth and low latency connectivity essential for emergency situations. Starlink Mobility, for example, now boasts sufficient satellites to ensure low/no latency satellite handovers all from a vehicle-mounted flat panel that requires no orientation, providing high-bandwidth and low-latency connectivity for emergency vehicles and their surrounds anywhere on the Australian continent.

Starlink mobility

Managing it all

As Emergency Services tech becomes more complex, the deployment, IT operational management and lifecycle of the endpoints and their connectivity becomes more complex too. For emergency services organisations especially, Managed Mobility Services provides the glue to ensure that their personnel always have the right tools to do their jobs, when and where they need them, even in remote areas, and especially when it is urgent.

Here is a quick tour of why Emergency Services organisations worldwide rely on specialised Managed Mobility Services to keep their critical devices and connections going:

Emergency response communication

1. Rapid Deployment

In fast-paced emergency situations, time is of the essence. Managed Mobility Services ensure that communication devices are rapidly deployed to the right locations, including in bulk when required. This swift delivery minimises response times and optimises resource utilisation.

2. Pre-Configured Connectivity

Specialized MMS experts can pre-configure devices with the correct network settings and security protocols, and pre-load critical apps too. This guarantees that devices arrive ready to connect, reducing the burden on responders who would otherwise need to configure devices in the field.

3. Operational Readiness

Devices deployed through Managed Mobility Services are fully set up, cyber-security protected and tested, ensuring they are operationally ready. This eliminates potential glitches or downtime that could hinder emergency response efforts.

4. Cost Efficiency

By streamlining device deployment and setup, Managed Mobility Services help reduce operational costs. They also ensure that valuable emergency resources are used efficiently, without delays caused by device configuration.

5. Predictability

The recent growth of Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) has provided another path for emergency services agencies to improve not only the efficiency and reliability of their operations, but also the financial predictability. Under DaaS, devices are provided, supported, maintained and regularly upgraded under a monthly subscription fee. This removes the need for capital expenditure on devices and device upgrades, while providing a predictable spend profile into the future, with substantial overall savings too. It also helps to meet the environmental aspects of governments’ ESG goals by minimising waste and ensuring recycling. For emergency services, this translates to always having current and well-maintained equipment, reducing cyber-security risks from unpatched devices, and having automatic access to rolling upgrades and replacements.

The latest advancements in emergency services communications are enhancing the effectiveness of first responders. From ruggedised smartphones to body-worn cameras, satellite communication devices, vehicle-mounted systems, and public safety drones, these tools are pivotal in crisis situations. Importantly, specialised Managed Mobility Services complement these technologies by ensuring that devices arrive swiftly, fully configured and cyber-secured, and ready for immediate use. This integrated approach is critical for improving response times, enhancing situational awareness, and ultimately saving lives.

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