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Industry 4.0: expanding the use case

Ahead of his presentation at CCWeek, president of Nokia Enterprise, Raghav Sahgal, discusses the opportunities presented by industrial IoT technology when leveraged in the public safety realm.

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‘Mission critical’ is generally defined as any factor essential to the operations of a system or organisation. But in the public safety community, when associated with communications, the significance of ‘mission critical’ is more explicit. Because in public safety, the notion of system failure is unconscionable, with loss of life as the ultimate cost.

Hardened by decades of real-life experience, mission critical communications means ‘fail safe’, ‘100 percent reliable’ and ‘always on’ – no matter what incident, emergency or environmental conditions.

Much of this can be attributed to TETRA and P25 digital radio, which  provided a major breakthrough in the 1990s delivering near indefatigable systems of mission-critical digital radio for use by emergency services. These standards quickly established their place in the global public safety armory and have remained a constant ever since.

To add to these most resilient of systems, we now have the opportunity to make another technology leap forward into an era where public safety communications can be reimagined, in order to create an even more ambitious notion of what it means to be ‘mission critical’.

So, where are we to look for this leap forward? The answer lies in ever-increasing deployment of Industry 4.0-type use cases.

IoT to improve safety

From mining and healthcare, to transportation and manufacturing – and of course in PPDR agencies – we’re seeing adoption of applications that leverage smart infrastructure and wireless connectivity to transform the ways public and employee safety are maintained.

Combining intelligence and interconnection, organisations are dialing up their IoT capability to introduce situational awareness, automation and predictive analytics.

For example, in China, highways authorities are using embedded sensors to transmit alerts that indicate roadside landslips. These warn authorities and prevent incidents before they can happen. 

In Japan meanwhile, a Tokyo rail operator is combining video feeds with artificial intelligence and machine learning-based analytics to identify anomalous behavior near railroad crossings. This is another a pre-emptive move to avert accidents.

And in mining, which comprises highly complex communications conditions, super-fast 5G is providing the answer to new, improved voice and video capability as well as excavation automation that reduces operator risk.

Step into the factory, and manufacturing safety stakes have also been upped. Sensors connect over wireless broadband to provide pin-point situational awareness as well as warnings of proximity or exposure to hazardous materials.

Across PPDR agencies, we have seen adoption of early warning and real-time solutions, such as the use of LTE-enabled high-resolution video and drones for natural disaster and incident management.

New levels of intelligence

By leveraging the combination of smart infrastructure and wireless connectivity, these Industry 4.0 solutions illustrate how safety use cases continue to grow in number, variety and sophistication.

Accordingly, the mission of public safety can also grow, infused with new levels of intelligence. Response now becomes prevention, observation transforms into prediction, and we move from reducing response time to action in real time.

In this way, mission-critical communications can take on new meaning, incorporating these new skills and senses, enabled by the latest technical capabilities, and with wireless broadband at its core.

Of course, much of this is not news. The public safety communications community has played an important role in developing mission-critical wireless broadband, not only driving its take-up but also its standardisation within 3GPP. This will ensure that specific features/design requirements necessary to make commercial networks mission-critical grade are adopted by the broader telecom community.

Alongside this work - and by complementing existing tried and trusted PPDR standards - there is immense potential for a digitally transformed Industry 4.0 era of mission-critical communications to emerge.

It will be one that secures both people and critical infrastructure, preventing the damage that has severe impact and long-term consequences. And also, one that has the potential to broaden its mission and redefine public safety communications for decades to come.

Raghav will presenting on 'How the rise of Industry 4.0 can further benefit the public safety community' at CCWeek. Register free for the event here. 

Critical Communications Today

Critical Communications Today is dedicated to the global critical communications market. It aims to inspire and inform the critical communications community and is published with the support of TCCA. Initially launched in 2010 as TETRA Today, this publication provides technical advice, authoritative editorial and commentary spanning all areas of mission-critical comms.
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