5G and Public Safety
Safe Traffic Control – 5G and Public Safety
According to government-fleet.com, “Each year in the U.S., there are an estimated 6,500 accidents involving ambulances and about 300 police cruiser pursuits that lead to injuries or fatalities. Over a 10-year period, there were roughly 31,600 accidents involving fire vehicles.”
On October 2, 2019, Verizon and TomTom announced their collaborative project to make our roads safer. This program will make it safer for emergency vehicles responding to calls to navigate their route without danger of collision from other vehicles at intersections. Let’s see how this works when we combine 5G and public safety.
The Internet of Things
To address the problem of collisions between emergency vehicles and other traffic, TomTom, the company best known for its GPS directional systems, will team its High Definition Maps with Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network to provide up-to-the-second routing for fire, medical and police emergency vehicles attempting to make their runs safer and more efficient.
The Internet of Things involves the ability of electronic devices to communicate with each other. One example of this is having your cell phone act as a command center from which you can do a variety of things while away from home. Things like starting your car remotely, activating your home security system while away, adjusting the thermostat in the house, turning lights on or off, checking your bank balance and moving your finances around. Those are existing functions and many more are available now or soon will be. Machines talking to machines is what will make the Verizon/TomTom project work.
The Big Picture
A few years ago I was driving a new rental car on the I-270 beltway around Columbus, Ohio. I noticed that at times the car slowed down when another car was in the lane ahead of me. At first, I thought something was wrong with the car since it still slowed down even when I was attempting to give it more gas. It then dawned on me that the car was equipped with sensors to detect traffic ahead of me and to slow me down to keep an assured safe distance between us. Such features now are commonplace and are advancing more and more each year.
Now imagine an autonomous vehicle, equipped, as they must be, with multitudes of sensors to coordinate its movements with GPS and all the surrounding cars and trucks as well as other roadway obstructions such as people, animals, construction sites interrupting the way and various inanimate objects rolling into its path. Stalled vehicles, speeding vehicles, emergency vehicles – all become stimuli requiring a safe and instantaneous response.
Next, interlink all these autonomous vehicles so that they “talk” to each other, alerting each other to their own presence, speed, route, etc. and melding this information with all the other objects, such as “older” style human operator cars, as unpredictable as they can be.
Now add to this the emergency vehicle on its way to save a life or stop a criminal activity. How can the police car/fire truck/ambulance make its way safely to its destination? By having the Internet of Things operating to provide sensory information from each vehicle combined with visual imagery from surrounding traffic cameras and coordinated with the traffic light signals for every intersection. This intercommunication is the key to providing the safe transit of emergency vehicles from their stations through traffic and intersections and to arriving safely at their destinations.
The 5G Connection
In order for the above scenario to work as it should, it is necessary for all this data to be gathered in real time and to coordinate with traffic signals and other control devices (including the autonomous cars I mentioned) as instantaneously as possible.
This is where 5G comes in. With its huge bandwidth and capacity, all the data can be received from the maps, cameras and other input sources without delay. It can then be read, organized and prioritized into a proper response sequence to be incorporated into “the big picture” described above. 5G’s extremely low latency means that the incoming data and the outgoing command stream will not be plagued by any large lag between stimulus (incoming data) and response (outgoing commands to stop traffic or to clear a path).
Although all the details have not been made public, the response may include radio signals sent to autonomous vehicles
telling them to stop or remain stopped, traffic lights directed to halt all traffic while the emergency vehicles pass through or a combination of such actions.
If your life or the life of your loved one was on the line, if your home was the one on fire, if your business was the one being burglarized, wouldn’t you want the fastest possible response from the public safety departments who serve you? Wouldn’t it matter to you whether help got to you safely instead of being halted by an accident? If you were in traffic through which the rescue equipment was trying to navigate, wouldn’t you want to be able to take action in advance and avoid an accident?
Can you appreciate this innovation and the increased safety it will provide? As Jeff Frantz, Verizon’s Executive Director of Location Technology said on TomTom’s website, “By harnessing the power of the Verizon 5G network and its massive bandwidth, super-fast speeds and ultra-low latency, this collaboration with TomTom will help us to create a next-generation service that can enable safer intersections for all.”
As I have mentioned often on my site, 5G is far more than just a new feature for cell phones. It will touch and change so many more areas of our lives. Stay tuned for more.
I have been talking about 5G and public safety right now, but if you are considering a 5G cell phone purchase, click here.