It’s a fact: First responders are superheroes.
An AT&T survey* found that more than two-thirds of consumers think of firefighters, police officers and EMTs as everyday heroes. These brave men and women are there when we need them. And across every level of the company, we believe it’s our responsibility to support the first responders who protect us.
Earlier this year, all 50 U.S. states, five territories and the District of Columbia opted in to FirstNet — the first nationwide communications platform dedicated to public built with and for first responders across the country. FirstNet presents the unique opportunity to bridge public safety’s capabilities with the internet of things to create smarter cities and smarter responses.
Here are four ways that IoT is helping support public safety — today and in the near future.
Public safety stands to benefit in a big way as cities and municipalities become more tech-driven. Take smart lighting, for example. Today, we can retrofit existing streetlights and use IoT to help cities monitor traffic and road conditions. This helps cities identify and proactively manage repairs, road closures and maintenance needs to keep roads safer.
If we extend smart lighting for public safety, video sensors on streetlights could help firefighters monitor traffic patterns and choose the fastest route to put out a house fire. As a second example, decibel sensors on streetlights could help police officers detect gunshots when and where they happen.
Recreational drones are sources of entertainment. Delivery drones are factors of convenience. Both are purposeful uses of drone technology. But drones for public safety can make a meaningful difference — they can save lives.
Imagine if paramedics could see what was happening at a car accident before they arrived. The potential to deploy a connected drone and collect information from the scene of an emergency could help EMS personnel make key decisions and jumpstart their response.
Or, think of the potential for firefighters using a connected drone as they battle the blaze of a rapidly moving wildfire. As conditions quickly change, firefighters on the front line could still have access to the information they need in near real time from a camera-equipped drone.
Fleet tracking and management systems are a technology mainstay for corporations and enterprises. Today, these same technologies are rolling out to first responders across the nation, so they can see the status of vehicles in the field like never before.
This technology details location, destination, speed and engine diagnostics. It also allows for geofencing and customizable exception reporting. Take a crime scene, for example, or a duty station. Geofencing can give incident commanders better visibility into available resources or help create a log of who goes in and out of an area.
Additionally, a fully integrated push-to-talk feature gives first responders a built-in communications platform. This means fleet managers and dispatch centers can speak directly with field operators and first responders. In the event of an emergency, a dispatcher can visually identify assets in the field instead of putting out a generalized request over the radio, which is what happens today.
Wearable cameras can provide “see-what-I-see” capabilities to support search and rescue. And along with cameras, wearable sensors can feed data to incident commanders and first responders.
For example, cardiac arrest is common for firefighters. Monitoring their health data can send early warning alerts to help keep them safe. If a firefighter’s heart rate increases, it could trigger the wearable camera to auto stream their current conditions. This would let command centers evaluate the need for backup and medical support.
And as these capabilities are brought onto the FirstNet platform, first responders can be confident they have highly secure, reliable access to near real-time data and video feeds.
Bringing it all together
Connected infrastructure, vehicles, drones and gear can greatly assist first responders. Together, these IoT technologies are helping build smarter cities for smarter responses in emergency situations.
We are connecting first responders to the world around them like never before. And we’ve only just scratched the surface of possibilities as we empower first responders with the tools and technology needed to respond to incidents more quickly, safely and effectively.
Why do we keep pushing? Because of the impact on outcomes, the potential to keep first responders out of harm’s way and for more lives saved. This motivates me and my team. It inspires innovation. And it serves as a rallying cry across AT&T to help the (super)heroes who help us.
*Source: AT&T and Kantar Added Value survey of 4,475 mobile users, June 1-30, 2017
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