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Critical comms view

The fourth industrial revolution can enhance critical communications through artificial intelligence, big data, 5G and automation, writes Mladen Vratonjić, Chairman, TCCA, the critical communications association.

Without effective critical communications, ensuring the safety of the public, keeping critical infrastructure protected, and helping businesses to protect themselves in the event of crises is not possible. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution evolves and technological innovation continues apace, the critical communications industry is beginning to look to the potential of 5G, automation and artificial intelligence to provide a greater range of critical services. The critical communications community is recognising the need to innovate and further enhance their work by tapping into and harnessing the opportunities provided by these emerging technologies to deliver a wider range of flexible, robust and effective solutions.

Big Data

Unlike the other technological advancements, big data isn’t necessarily a new concept. In fact, businesses of all sizes have been utilising big data to gain valuable information to help make their business goals more tangible for years. But the value of big data is all about how the information is analysed and used, not necessarily about how much data is mined. Properly used, this data could be of great benefit to critical communications providers that are able to extract and utilise the information presented to them to determine the most appropriate actions.

The use of big data in some areas of critical communications has already been effective, though. Public safety bodies, for example, have been using social media to relay messages to the general public in pre- and post- event circumstances where a crisis has occurred. The key aspect here is the use of big data in conjunction with social media to provide accurate and speedy communications to the masses, in the event of a major event.

Critical communications operators can gather the significant amounts of data available to them through social media, so that it can be filtered and then analysed. Operators can then incorporate the information into their messages to ensure that the most accurate and intelligent responses are delivered to the general public. This is just one example, but it illustrates why big data will have an important role to play in the future of critical communications, especially as the industry develops more advanced methods in using its data to deliver ever more accurate information.

Looking forward to 5G

5G will look to build on the foundation created by prior technology generations. There is much work going on to put in place the standards that will enable mission-critical voice communications to be carried over LTE/4G networks, and it is expected that 5G connectivity will further enhance network capabilities and the operational capabilities of critical communications users.

Critical communications is the one area of telecommunications that needs to cope with various different requests, services, speeds and unpredictability of required capacity. As 5G is all about providing next level flexibility, coverage, capacity, security, data rate and low latency it is the ideal network to deliver a wide variety of services across different environments in a highly efficient and robust way. For example, 5G networks will use context-aware mapping of services to technologies and will be able to make dynamic decisions on which resources to use to deliver each service, guaranteeing the appropriate level of service quality needed in the most efficient way possible.

In relation to Machine-Type Communications (MTC), the main difference between 5G and the previous generations of mobile wireless systems, is that 5G is principally addressing two generic modes of MTC: one being massive MTC (mMTC), which provides connectivity for large numbers of low-cost and low-energy devices in the context of the Internet of Things, and the other being Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC), which is the more innovative feature of 5G which due to its very low end-to-end latency is a potential enabler of a vast set of mission critical applications, some of which are yet hard to imagine.

Automating the processes

The rise of automation as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has already streamlined processes and operations in various industries, making for greater efficiency Automation can significantly reduce the need for human intervention, which can speed up processes.

Critical communication providers are already incorporating automation into their processes. A good example of this is the IT industry, as major IT events can have a substantially negative impact on a company’s business operations, which means that IT businesses must accelerate their IT incident resolution process.

TCCA member Nokia’s Integrated Operations Center (IOC) allows critical communications solution providers to transform operations at the command centre through automated workflows triggered by critical alerts from pre-integrated tools that analyse incoming information. The service works by efficiently aggregating data feeds collected from a host of sources during an emergency situation including CCTV, alarm systems and social media, and then processing this information through the automated workflow, which is then presented on a dashboard in the most efficient way to help reduce response time, enhancing communication between a multitude of connected critical communications agencies.

Practical applications for AI

As one of the breakthrough technological trends of 2018, it’s no surprise that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become one of the most high profile technological advancements in recent years. AI is so prevalent now and in the future it is expected to revolutionise the way workforces operate around the globe. Nearly every major industry has plans to use AI, with some already having access to its practical application including the retail, manufacturing and healthcare sectors. Critical communications is ripe for disruption by AI. As a sector it could benefit from the use of AI in a number of different spheres. Public safety organisations, such as security services for example, or law enforcement and fire departments could all benefit from the potential of this new technology.

AI is capable of being incorporated into security systems such as image-scanning computers helping to identify potential suspects captured near crime scenes, as well as alerting the nearest police stations of potential crimes by picking up on unusual movements of trespassers at controlled locations.

Take mission critical communications solutions provider and TCCA member Motorola Solutions. Who has partnered with AI company Neurala and are currently working on developing intelligent cameras for public safety officers that can learn in real-time and automatically pick out individuals of interest. This, of course, goes a long way to reduce costs, time and effort of such activities carried out by humans therefore increasing the operational efficiency of public safety departments.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring new benefits for the critical communications sector – a series of new and revolutionary technological advancements that have the potential to enhance this industry’s operational pedigree and lay the foundations for future developments. Artificial intelligence, 5G, automation, and the increasingly efficient analysis of big data all have the potential to complement today’s critical communications services. With each innovation bringing something different to the way critical communications can be enhanced, there can be no doubt that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will significantly enhance the work carried out by public services professionals now and in the future.


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