4G and 5G connectivity in emergency service vehicles and stations keep U.K. communities safe
Blue lights and two-toned sirens are akin to lifelines in the U.K. As emergency service agencies bring relief and safety to the U.K. public, blues and twos technologies in turn bring mission-critical connectivity to first responders. they prepare for imminent emergencies, fire, police, and ambulance response teams rely on the operational advancements that come with mobile network connectivity in headquarters, stations, and vehicles.
The technological needs of U.K. emergency services
Backed by funding from national taxpayers, U.K. emergency service agencies must invest in new technologies with a high degree of discretion supported by a strong return on investment (ROI) and alignment with the goals of each department, whose primary objectives vary slightly from one agency to the next.
Fire services, for example, may focus their technology budgets on IoT devices and software that aid in gathering information at the site of an emergency. Technology investments for the national police force aim to keep officers in the field as much as possible, and money put toward technology upgrades in ambulances is likely to center on the ability to triage patients rapidly and remotely.
4G and 5G use cases for blues and twos technologies
Since the advent of 4G, adoption of advanced emergency service technologies has continued to speed up across Europe for a wide range of use cases.
Cellular connectivity in emergency vehicles enables first responders to efficiently communicate with dispatch centers and share mission-critical data securely, regardless of their location. Wireless routers also provide access to Wi-Fi connectivity for tablets used to complete tasks and reports in the field.
In ambulances, police cars, and fire appliances, mobile network routers are used to provide connectivity for various IoT applications including license plate readers, body-worn video cameras, digital forensics, emergency identification and mapping applications using virtual reality, firefighter tracking in low visibility, and mobile medical triage equipment.
Branch, headquarter, and temporary site support
4G and 5G connectivity is just as helpful for brick and mortar or temporary locations as it is in vehicles. Mobile routers provide the secure, reliable connectivity needed for mobile MRI and vaccination clinics to serve expanded populations, as well as mobile command centers during large-scale emergencies. Cellular connectivity can also be used as a failover link for branch and headquarter locations, ensuring constant network uptime for critical services such as 999 call centers.
How first responders address key connectivity challenges in the U.K.
While the advantages of mobile technology for first responders include increased safety, improved response times, and more lives saved, creating a culture of wireless connectivity support does not come without its challenges. Some areas throughout the country still struggle with 3G-only connectivity or even none at all, while others face congestion in critical times.
Mixed cellular network availability
Emergency service vehicles travel from urban to rural locations and everywhere in between. These dispersed response areas come with mixed network reliability. To combat this challenge, modems within wireless routers act like hearing aids for cellular networks connectivity, amplifying the grasp on a stable signal.
Dual-SIM and dual-modem technologies are also vital when operating in diverse coverage areas. Dual-SIM technology is when a single modem contains slots for two SIM cards — typically from two different cellular network providers — with only one SIM active at a time. Dual-modem routers allow SIM cards from different providers to be active at the same time, enabling automatic wireless-to-wireless failover with no downtime when switching between the two. While a dual-modem setup is significantly more efficient compared to dual SIMs alone, both technologies allow first responders to toggle to the best available network in any given location.
To further home in on the perfect coverage solution, cloud-based management systems such as Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Manager for dispersed WWAN routers enable IT teams in emergency service agencies to remotely monitor and manage network performance and health from a single pane of glass.
Network congestion during emergencies
The broad impact of large-scale emergencies can lead to severe network congestion, which inhibits the ability of first responders to do their jobs effectively. The U.K.’s Emergency Services Network (ESN) plays a key role in blues and twos technology by providing network priority and preemption to frontline emergency service users in vehicles, aircraft, and control rooms.
As 5G becomes more pervasive across the U.K., network performance, bandwidth, and speeds will continue to improve, as will the ability to further scale modern first responder technologies.