5G networks is on the horizon now, destined to increase mobile data transfer speeds and reduce communications latency compared to current 4G.
A recent survey by telecoms vendor Ericsson showed how executives in the public safety sector saw forthcoming 5G networks affecting their organisations and the services provided.
When asked where they expected to gain the most value from 5G, the executives suggested mostly that better performance, enhanced security, and improved device to device communications would be important.
However, these 5G features must then be mapped onto the requirements for emergency management to show the real value for public safety.
The mapping works as follows. The increased performance of 5G networks will let urgent communications (voice and data) get through in a timely way.
There will be a reduced risk of hackers disrupting the reaction time of emergency workers, thanks to the enhanced security. Device to device communications will allow for additional channels of communication during an emergency.
Advantages also include the possibilities for network operators to dynamically change the speed and latency of different parts of a 5G network (“slicing” the network), to make sure that priority in communications then goes to the first responders.
These advantages may depend on the design of such a 5G network. There have been two possible architectures suggested. One is similar to today’s cellular networks, while the other uses fibre optic links with Wi-Fi connectivity at the end of the link for connecting to mobiles.
In the case of “nomadic” Wi-Fi based on fibre optic, it remains to be seen how well unexpected emergency situations happening anywhere could be handled. With other sectors like healthcare, automotive, and high tech manufacturing also interested in 5G, the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance has slated 2020 as a goal for 5G availability.
Organisations involved in emergency management will have just a 3 to 4-year window in which to plan how they will use these new capabilities.