In a recent report on commitments made at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, stakeholders identified “the lack of reliable, accurate and transparent data as a consistent and cross-cutting obstacle.”
The ability to capture, share and access data - whether you’re in a refugee camp, conflict zone or disaster area - is crucial in helping the right decisions to be made as quickly as possible. It requires a range of technologies that can adapt to the demands of different users and harsh environments, without detracting from the task at hand.
Motorola Solutions has worked closely with end users and developers to create a portfolio of applications that deliver real-time intelligence and automate processes so that humanitarians can spend more time on the job at hand.
Improve situational awareness with mission-critical intelligence
As events start unravelling, situations can change rapidly. Information often comes streaming in from numerous sources and this can cause confusion, if it is not properly managed. The CommandCentral Intelligence Platform centralises and simplifies data management to facilitate planning and provide operational support.
Built on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud, CommandCentral protects your data across all servers and software applications, ensuring you can correlate and analyse information from diverse devices. Locate and track personnel or vehicles and stream video from the command centre to mobile devices in real time to increase situational awareness, enhance staff safety and make more intelligent decisions.
Find the right people, communicate and co-ordinate actions with the PSX Messaging and Mapping application. Text, photos and video can be shared with your talk group or select personnel instantly and securely, whether they’re using smartphones or two-way radios.
And when outdoor GPS is unavailable, the TRX NEON Indoor Location System tracks personnel in real time, with the ability to model buildings in 3D and review activities after an event has been completed. This application can be used to support enhanced search and rescue and deliver improved situational awareness for operations underground.
Capture and validate data more accurately
Accounting for victims in a disaster situation and tracking groups on the move can be less of a challenge with eTWIST. The application allows you to include high-resolution photography with integrated GPS geo-locating and grid mapping. Data accuracy is dramatically enhanced through on-site data collection and automatic validation via Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth communications.
You can also use eTWIST to manage the delivery of goods such as medicines and food supplies, using barcode/RFID scanning to rapidly populate entries. The software further enhances operational efficiency by allowing users to employ bio-scanning and voice commands for data capture.
Enhance security with end-to-end data encryption and identity management
Aid agencies are at significant risk from hackers, as has been evidenced by a recent security alert related to the storage of data of vulnerable people. When critical information is exchanged via wireless communications, humanitarians must have reliable end-to-end data encryption.
Motorola Solutions’ Mobile VPN has been specifically designed to keep information secure while managing data across multiple mobile applications and wireless networks. Workers can stay securely connected while they move in and out of coverage or switch between 4G/LTE, 3G or WiFi networks.
We also offer a range of identity management services, including single sign-on authentication for password management and authentication.
Keep mobile teams communicating across devices
Different tasks require different devices, so it is not always possible to standardise across work groups. The WAVE Mobile Communicator extends workforce communication to anywhere that has a network connection, turning your Android or iOS smart device into a multi-channel push-to-talk (PTT) handset. This allows workers using smartphones and other devices to communicate with two-way radio users securely over broadband networks, providing unified voice and text messaging.
Boost workforce efficiency with greater collaboration
Information can be captured in many ways and the last thing humanitarians need is to be juggling numerous devices to get their job done. The mobile application SceneDoc provides a consistent means of documenting events. Capture images, video and audio files, sketch and take notes in a digital notepad, complete agency forms and generate reports quickly and accurately, while having a near real-time view into the scene. SceneFiles are synched with a hosted or on-premise administrative back-end for access and collaboration from any connected device.
With multiple agencies and work teams involved in peacekeeping, disaster response and development, collaboration is essential for a positive outcome. DForce is a mobile collaboration application that allows teams to create and share information rapidly. Track your co-workers on a map using GPS and share whiteboards, messages, files and images when you’re in the field.
Another application which has proven useful for asset management, process management and data collection is Touch Mobile. The app allows you to look up assets geospatially by barcode, direct part mark or GPS location. Collect data offline and upload it once you have a connection, query and filter data, get customised reports delivered directly to your device and generate work orders.
Co-developed solutions based on proven technologies
These are just some examples of how technology can support humanitarians to meet the tough demands they face in preventing and reducing human suffering. They have already been tried and tested in the field and can be adapted if required to vastly improve the capacity to collect, monitor and analyse data and to help data-driven humanitarian decision-making to become the norm.
With the right technology, information can flow where and when it’s needed, improving collaboration and sharing, thereby boosting efficiency. Data is critical to the success of humanitarian organisations in helping to anticipate and respond to needs, especially in rapidly-changing situations. The ability to automate actions and analyse trends and patterns can also have a significant impact on response times.
Predict Events and Respond Proactively
Artificial intelligence (AI) enables agencies to watch hours of video footage in seconds. This can include visuals from satellites, drones, CCTV, vehicle-mounted cameras and mobile phones. By transferring this information into real-time intelligence, AI can help to predict incidents before they occur.
At the Motorola Solutions Innovation Centre, you can see the application of AI working with natural language processing software to help responders to interact with backend systems and retrieve critical intelligence.
Also on show is our Command Central solution, which brings together big data analytics, cybersecurity, the Internet of Things and incident management systems to turn data into actionable intelligence that can enable a more proactive response.
Greater Situational Awareness and Improved Personnel Safety
We are all aware of the growing adoption of wearable tech and its potential for humanitarian operations is also vast. Come and experience this for yourself with Motorola’s Augmented Reality Fire Incident Command concept. Sensors and devices worn by firefighters automatically record and share data including air supply, biometrics (heart rate, breathing) and environmental temperature, while “point-of-view” body-worn cameras capture the firefighter’s surroundings.
Try out a pair of “smart glasses” with a self-contained holographic computer that allows you to engage with digital information and interact with holograms superimposed onto the world around you. The Mixed Reality technology featured at our Innovation Centre can truly transform situational awareness and personnel safety.
Enhanced Workgroup Communications
Earlier this year, we talked about how our WAVE push-to-talk (PTT) platform can enhance work group communications. Having access to the right tools is crucial for humanitarians, but it can also result in a broad array of devices and disparate networks, making collaboration tricky.
At the Innovation Centre you can learn more about how WAVE can connect digital radio, cellular, Wi-Fi and telephony networks, allowing team members to stay in touch, regardless of which device or network they are using.
Continuous Operations with Secure LTE
One of our recent blog posts highlighted how a secure LTE portable infrastructure can offer humanitarians reliable voice, data and video communication through portable, semi-permanent and fixed on-demand broadband coverage. The Innovation Centre combines the LXN500 portable LTE solution with mapping, messaging and video streaming that allows you to pinpoint aid vehicles and personnel in the field and enable seamless collaboration.
The Future is Already Here
It may sound futuristic, but all this technology is available and ready for use today. Having the technology and tools to meet evolving needs is important if humanitarian organisations are to rise to the challenge of escalating costs and expanding populations. However, it is equally important to have a technology partner with the specialised knowledge and experience to understand these challenges and find new ways to get the job done.
Whether you want to add an existing application or build your own customised data capabilities, Motorola’s Application Developer Programme makes it easy to expand the functionality of your MOTOTRBO radios to increase personnel safety and bolster efficiency according to your unique requirements. It also allows you to do this seamlessly across networks and devices.
The Application Developer toolkit enables you to write your application once and deploy it across MOTOTRBO and broadband networks, effortlessly.
What benefits could apps have for humanitarian operations?
The capabilities which applications bring to MOTOTRBO users are endless. Here are just some examples of how they could benefit humanitarian operations.
Our on-line Application Catalogue allows you to search by region, technology, language and industry for the application you need. There are applications developed by Motorola Solutions, our channel partners as well as third parties. All applications have proven customer deployments or have been tested in a Motorola Solutions lab.
If you have an existing application which you’d like to deploy across your MOTOTRBO network, our Application Developer Kit will guide you through the process.
We can also offer advice and help you to find the solution that best fits your needs.
Get in touch with me if you need assistance or have any questions.
Director United Nations and International Accounts
In our experience, one of the most effective ways for technology innovators to achieve impact is to collaborate with affected communities. After all, who is better placed to understand the daily challenges and how lack of access to basic public services such as healthcare, education and security impedes a population’s stability and development?
By understanding individual and group needs at grass-roots level, nurturing ideas and working with affected communities to identify technological solutions, technology vendors can contribute to entrepreneurial ecosystems that give citizens the access and opportunities they need to enable progress.
This process requires engagement in a number of different networks, from advising regulatory bodies and supporting educational institutions to participating in forums and hosting workshops. Together, these networks underpin the drive towards growth and stability.
While Motorola Solutions’ pioneering heritage and experience in public safety has enabled us to develop a wide range of mission-critical communication solutions that span infrastructure, devices, software and services, the true potential of all this technology risks remaining untapped without shared knowledge and local resources.
Initiatives such as Mobiles for Human Development - in which Motorola Solutions and the UNDP partnered to explore the use of mobile technologies to foster human development - can help to bring basic services and information to all citizens. The collaborative effort of social innovators, national and local governments, academic and civil society organisations and small enterprises revealed the gap between human and technological development and suggested ways in which mobile technology could tackle the diverse challenges faced by developing countries.
This research led to the creation of the International Network of Social Innovators for Human Development, which has held gatherings in Kenya, Tunisia, Rwanda, Berlin, Senegal and Ethiopia and is continuing to expand to other countries and regions.
Another example of how networking with local communities can have a significant impact is the MotoSecure Hackathon Day. Hosted in partnership with Impact Hub Bamako in Mali, it provided the opportunity for us to work with young entrepreneurs and application developers, to encourage innovation and explore new economic opportunities to drive digital growth, promote stability and support development.
During the event, Safi Camara, a member of Women Tech Makers Mali, proposed a solution to improve the country’s healthcare system through the development of a mobile application that would enable doctors and hospitals to manage medical records and patients more easily and efficiently. Another participant, Amadou Yarangore, chose to tackle the rise of insecurity in society by using Motorola Solutions’ application programme interfaces (APIs) to create a direct and secure information linkage between citizens and security agents.
We have also been engaged in Rule of Law infrastructure development projects, including a 2014 project with the Somalia Police Force to provide safe communication solutions to local police.
Defining Industry Standards
The establishment of regulatory standards is equally important in building entrepreneurial ecosystems. Standards make innovation happen more quickly and act as a catalyst for growth.
In creating and promoting regulatory standards such as TETRA and Digital Mobile Radio and by helping to define 4G technology and more specifically the deployment of Long Term Evolution (LTE), Motorola Solutions has supported interoperability at application, device and network level, promoting open standards that give humanitarian organisations and local governments the freedom to choose which vendor to purchase from while also offering them the reassurance of compliance.
In addition, participation in forums such as the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) has promoted the use of shared communication services in humanitarian emergencies. In 2014, The ETC adopted MOTOTRBO DMR as the official digital VHF/UHF radio standard for ETC and humanitarian operations. This technology has given humanitarian organisations and local police forces access to timely and effective communication that can improve response and co-ordination, provide greater operational security for staff and assets and enhance decision-making.
Investing in Capacity Building
Education programmes that advance science, technology, engineering and maths are vital to prepare future generations of innovators. Motorola Solutions’ charitable and philanthropic arm, the Motorola Solutions Foundation (MSF), makes strategic grants to engage students in hands-on technology and engineering activities such as coding, programming and robotics.
Professional development and training opportunities are also offered to first responders. For example, the MSF is working with the American Red Cross and International Red Cross to improve technologies in Africa that help disaster prevention and relief. Partnerships with fire sensor manufacturers have resulted in low-cost smart fire alarms being installed in thousands of homes across settlements in Nairobi, Kenya and Cape Town, South Africa.
In Washington DC, the MSF has helped to fund training for police officers to handle situations on conflict and violence reduction. Since the training has been implemented in Vermont, New Jersey and Florida, all three areas have seen a reduction in the number of police situations ending in violence, complaints against police and number of police injuries.
Sustainable Development Goals
Each of the networks discussed above demonstrate how building entrepreneurial ecosystems can creatively overcome hindrances to development by enhancing basic services such as education, healthcare and security to foster growth.
By aligning technology, knowledge and resources, we can create sustainable goals for social and economic development.
Connectivity is just as important in disaster response as it is in helping to re-build affected communities after the event. Having little or no infrastructure with which to establish a broadband network used to be a major challenge for humanitarians. But thanks to technological innovation, this is no longer the case.
In this issue of Think Aid Connect we examine some examples of how Motorola’s ecosystem of mobile LTE broadband solutions can transform humanitarian connectivity and enable agencies to service connected beneficiaries more efficiently.
IMPROVED SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
When an earthquake strikes or war breaks out, humanitarians need to establish the scale and nature of the damage as quickly as possible. Using a drone or tethered balloon, they can rapidly establish a semi-permanent or mobile broadband network that has the range and quality of coverage to stream high-definition video in real time.
Once the affected community has access to a public LTE network, it enables data to be crowd-sourced to determine their needs and information to be relayed to them in fast-changing situations – without impacting on the capacity or availability of the private humanitarian LTE network. Thus, having their own private network can enable humanitarians to gain and share vital intelligence that can have a significant impact on their response.
GREATER PERSONNEL SAFETY
Operating in extremely hazardous situations requires supervisors to be able to locate aid workers and track their status. With Motorola’s Integrated Command and Control application, the movement of personnel can be pinpointed on a map, allowing the nearest person to be dispatched if help is required and providing reassurance in stressful circumstances. It can also help to monitor the progress of food and medical supply convoys.
To get the job done to the best of their ability, each humanitarian worker has to have the tools most suited to their requirements. WAVE Work Group Communications allows them to communicate across two-way radio and broadband networks, regardless of which device they choose to use. So whether they’re in a disaster zone or working at a refugee camp, humanitarians can stay connected and keep up to date at all times.
ALWAYS-ON ACCESS TO AID PROGRAMME APPLICATIONS
The beauty of having your own private LTE network is the ability to distribute capacity as and when it is needed and also to add capacity if required.
Throughout all stages of a humanitarian operation, aid workers need to access, process and share information. So, the network has to be flexible, reliable and secure.
Motorola’s LTE portable infrastructure offers a broad choice of mobile and fixed connectivity:
- lightweight, portable LTE which can be carried in a backpack
- tactical LTE in a ruggedised case
- in-vehicle options for greater mobility
- aerial platforms for semi-permanent or fixed installations
All these options provide uninterrupted connectivity that is independent of any existing infrastructure. There is the option to connect to the LTE via microwave, satellite or fibre backhaul, to accommodate varied environments, climates and terrains.
KEEPING HUMANITARIANS SAFE
The harsh reality of much humanitarian work is that aid workers are frequently at risk. Without security, they cannot offer the support needed.
Extending our vast experience in public safety, Motorola Solutions has worked closely with emergency responders to help to equip them with devices that can enhance protection. One example of this is body-worn cameras. By combining a video camera, radio speaker and microphone, as well as cloud-based data storage, information about a situation can be captured and stored quickly and easily. So if an incident occurs, the LTE network can be used to relay real-time video, still images and emergency alerts and enable a more intelligent and rapid response. All of this can be achieved without detracting from responding to the crisis at hand.
As has been evidenced with public safety agencies, humanitarians also stand to benefit from improved accountability when wearing a camera. Deployments have shown that when a hostile situation is being recorded, responders tend to behave better and so do the people with whom they are interacting. In fact, citizen complaints regarding interaction with law enforcement officers tend to be reduced by as much as 50 per cent, suggesting that body-worn cameras can help to defuse confrontations.
A DEDICATED, RELIABLE NETWORK THAT YOU CAN TAKE ANYWHERE
From the few examples I’ve discussed, it is evident that connectivity can empower people in myriad ways. It has the potential to truly transform humanitarian services and the affected communities they support.
Portable Public Safety LTE is the next step in the digital transformation that embraces past challenges and opens a whole new world of possibilities.
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During a meeting of the Security Council which was held on 10 March 2017, the United Nations humanitarian chief warned that twenty million people across Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and north-eastern Nigeria are at risk of starvation.
With changing weather patterns offering little hope of relief from this drought-stricken region, the situation is expected to worsen. In many areas, hostilities have damaged or destroyed infrastructure and ongoing conflict has displaced around 3.4 million people.
Aid agencies face tremendous challenges in distributing food and medicine across inhospitable terrain and the delivery of supplies has been further hindered by attacks on aid workers.
In disaster response situations such as these, two-way radio can prove to be an indispensable tool, providing instant voice and data communications that is not reliant on existing infrastructure and is also economical:
- Within half an hour, a mobile voice and data communications network can be established, covering approximately 50 kilometres. All that is required is a vehicle with a battery or solar panel, connected to a four-metre antenna.
- The communication network operates independently of any existing infrastructure and provides reliable, robust and secure communication - quickly and easily.
- With no call charges, two-radio offers a highly cost-effective means of keeping remote work teams in contact at the push of a button.
- Multiple communication channels allow different work groups to communicate without interruption or delay, improving co-ordination and collaboration which is imperative in time-critical situations.
And with digital radio, communication is not limited to voice. Numerous applications have been developed to offer aid organisations the choice of feature-rich data services that enhance their capabilities in demanding situations.
With integrated GPS, two-way radios can track vehicles and personnel, helping to improve the safety of workers operating in high-risk areas. The ability to pinpoint aid along the delivery route enables logistics personnel to estimate how long supplies will take to reach a distribution point so that the team on site can be prepared and ready on arrival.
Fleet management solutions can present important data regarding the status of a vehicle in the field, helping to provide advance alerts in the event of a mechanical failure or fault, while despatch consoles make it easier to co-ordinate multiple vehicles and manage users spread over a large area.
In clinics, task management applications can help work flow and improve productivity by flagging up actions and alerting supervisors once a task has been completed.
All these activities can be supported with push-to-talk communication across different networks and devices, making it easier and safer for humanitarians to tackle some of the enormous tasks they face.
The importance of communication in disaster response has been widely acknowledged. However, humanitarian organisations face a number of complex communication challenges – both within their own operations and when collaborating with other emergency response, military and public safety agencies. These challenges span all aspects of a relief effort – from planning and early warning systems to response, rescue and recovery.
The unique needs of geographically-dispersed aid workers and office-based teams – all of whom have different responsibilities – have resulted in a wide array of communication devices and disparate networks. Meeting these varied needs and contexts while managing communications across a global operation can seem an impossible task that requires tremendous technical sophistication.
But it’s not as impossible as you may think: aid workers can use their preferred device to communicate securely across any IP network with any other device – and do so in real time, seamlessly. That’s what Motorola’s WAVE Work Group Communications solution is designed to achieve – easily, flexibly and without distracting users from the task at hand.
Removing the Technical Barriers to Integrated Communication
WAVE Work Group Communications is a software platform and suite of applications that removes the technical barriers to secure, instant communication across any IP network. It supports media and data streams across an IP network, providing users with a consistent experience, regardless of which device they’re using, their operating platform or their location. As such, WAVE provides a reliable and common source of information that has been tested across battlefields and in the aftermath of natural disasters.
By connecting their disparate networks to WAVE’s Push-to-Talk (PTT) platform, humanitarian agencies can communicate seamlessly between smartphones, radios, computers or landlines. WAVE unifies massively complex communication environments to transform co-operation both within the organisation and amongst external agencies.
Let’s consider some examples of how this could benefit humanitarian operations. Field workers could alert trucks transporting aid about roads which have been destroyed, enabling them to adapt their routes and minimise delays. The location of each vehicle can be tracked using GPS, helping logistics managers to determine how long it will take for aid to reach victims and providing greater security for remote aid workers.
Office-based personnel can communicate via their desktop computers with rescue teams who are using two-way radios at the site of a disaster, collecting vital information about the scale and extent of damage while those who are out of the office can stay in touch using their smartphones. And rescue workers can collaborate with local emergency, police and even military personnel securely via pre-configured channels.
In this way, WAVE allows all parties to keep up to date on events spontaneously and in real time, improving the co-ordination of operations for the benefit of all concerned, while respecting organisational autonomy.
Adaptable, Affordable and Easy to Use
Because every team has its own unique needs, WAVE is designed to provide the flexibility to adapt to different requirements without adding complexity.
The Dispatch Communicator provides advanced IP dispatch capabilities at a fraction of the cost of traditional hardware-based systems. It only requires an industry-standard PC to display and process unlimited channels of secure, encrypted media at the click of a mouse.
WAVE’s Desktop Communicator is a customisable, scalable, feature-rich dispatch console that supports multiple extensions, conference calling as well as presence and location mapping capabilities.
WAVE Mobile Communicator extends PTT to Android and iOS smartphone users, as well as speciality devices like Motorola’s LEX L10 Mission Critical LTE Handheld, so they can communicate with two-way radio users and other users over broadband networks.
Already in widespread use with government, military and commercial organisations, the WAVE Mobile Communicator operates via any 3G, 4G, LTE, public Wi-Fi or private data connection. It offers humanitarian workers instant, always-on, robust push-to-talk capability with integrated mapping, group and private call functionality.
WAVE MOBILE COMMUNICATOR
A fundamental difference between WAVE and other communication systems is its peer-to-peer architecture. The absence of a controller or traffic manager in the middle reduces the likelihood of network latency or single point failures.
Sharing Reliable, Accurate Information Enhances Inter-agency Co-operation
A solution such as WAVE can greatly enhance the efficiency of complex operations such as logistics and supply chain management by improving collaboration and streamlining the capture and sharing of information, providing immediate access to data or media and connecting users at the touch of a button.
It makes integrated communication both within an organisation and between external agencies seamless. The ability for humanitarian agencies and first responders to share reliable and accurate information systems using the devices best suited for the task at hand, regardless of which network they’re operating on can make a major difference to disaster response and to the safety of personnel.
Equally important is the fact that this can be achieved without the technology distracting attention or becoming too cumbersome to manage.
For more information:
Within the next ten years, 27 megacities will have emerged and 21 of these will be in less-developed countries (source: Population Reference Bureau). As cities become more densely populated, the demand on infrastructure and resources grows and so does the need for a secure environment in which communities can thrive.
Public safety is an essential element for creating a smart city. Communication must be integrated between the control centre, field personnel and citizens so that it can be analysed and acted upon intelligently. This integration of communication networks allows for seamless collaboration between different agencies and results in more streamlined and efficient operations.
It is exactly what Motorola’s Smart Public Safety Solutions are designed to achieve - by transforming data from disparate networks and devices into real-time intelligence that can be disseminated rapidly in a mobile environment. So, instead of reacting when incidents occur, we can begin to predict and prevent them. But equally importantly, we can use this critical communication infrastructure to provide a platform for third-party developers to create applications that serve local needs.
Mobile technology and the Internet of Things have done wonders for citizen engagement – such as promoting transparency during elections by broadcasting the results as votes are counted to supporting accountability by allowing citizens to record and report incidents as they occur, as well as improving service delivery and emergency response. This allows citizens to be active participants in ensuring their own safety.
However, to really harness the power of smarter, safer cities, you need more than sophisticated technology: governments, humanitarian agencies and private organisations need to be able to work together to create a protected environment where local needs can be nurtured. To this end, Motorola Solutions is partnering with a number of third-party application developers to enable them to build on the existing infrastructure, helping countries to maximise their investment and bolster economic growth.
As an example - a citizen in need of help from a local agency activates the panic button on their smartphone app. Their location is identified using GPS co-ordinates and the most appropriate and closest responder is despatched. The responder is able to access the citizen’s details - such as medical information or emergency contact numbers, for example. This not only improves the speed and quality of emergency response: it can also be used for adapting the level of response according to the severity of the alert, thereby optimising the use of personnel.
But what if the caller is in a building where GPS doesn’t work? There is a complementary application which can pinpoint indoor location by capturing the electromagnetic fields which are unique to a particular building, based on WiFi networks. So the caller can be located easily, anywhere within the building.
Applications can also help to alleviate the load on call centres, where automated queuing systems may not result in the most urgent call being given priority. By streaming live video between the caller and the call centre and using sophisticated real-time video analytics such as Agent Vi, incoming calls can be screened for authenticity and prioritised according to the severity of the situation.
Local citizens are becoming the eyes and ears of public safety and local government agencies. The value they can add as on-the-scene, real-time reporters has also recently been embraced by humanitarian organisations, with crowd-sourcing applications helping aid operations to assess - and respond to - disasters.
Using text, photos, videos and social media, citizens are able to alert their local municipality to broken water pipes, traffic incidents, criminal activity or natural disasters. Citizen connectivity has also spawned applications that enable alerts to be sent by local agencies to individual smartphones automatically. So for example, in the event of a terrorist attack, chemical leak or natural disaster, real-time data from air pollution sensors, surveillance cameras, alarms, sirens and social media feeds can be integrated into a smart communication network that distributes intelligence more quickly and effectively. This makes it possible for the right information to be accessed the moment it is needed, keeping citizens safer and providing an environment in which they can thrive.
Air quality is another example. Here the application displays air pollution levels on a heat map. Users can access this information to ascertain air pollution in their particular location and receive real-time alerts. This can prove a vital tool in ensuring wellbeing for asthma patients, for example.
Parking is invariably limited in busy city centres, so a smart parking solution saves citizens time and can alleviate congestion by helping them to locate the nearest parking space using the co-ordinates from CCTV cameras and applying video analytics.
These are just a few examples of the endless possibilities presented by the Internet of Things when it is combined with community collaboration. From protecting borders to promoting greater safety in cities, enhancing response in an emergency, improving the efficiency of public transportation networks or providing a more healthy environment, we are virtually limited only by our imagination in how we can help communities to flourish.
Blog Author: Roni-Aharon Maximov
My recent move to Nairobi brings Motorola Solutions another step closer to being more integrated into the humanitarian community. Such a large gathering of NGOs in the country provides a valuable opportunity to gain hands-on understanding and insight into how our technology can help to empower and protect workers in operations ranging from healthcare to disaster relief, peacekeeping or the distribution of aid.
Communication is key to the success of any organisation and we’re constantly seeking ways to make our technology smarter. The occasion of my migration south just happened to coincide with the launch of Motorola’s next-generation MOTOTRBO™ Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) portfolio.
We’ve come a long way since MOTOTRBO spearheaded the DMR revolution in 2007! Taking this experience and user feedback into account, the latest range of radios brings a number of new features and capabilities to help aid workers to operate even more safely, efficiently and productively.
Longer battery life, indoor tracking, integrated Wi-Fi, seamless communication
Next generation MOTOTRBO keeps workers in touch for longer, with up to 29 hours of battery life, so teams don’t have to worry about losing contact when they need it most. It also saves hundreds of hours of lost productivity by using its integrated Wi-Fi capability for remote software updates. This enables radios to be managed from a central location, so users no longer need to waste time dropping off their devices and waiting for updates, which means they can spend more time in the field.
Building on MOTOTRBO’s integrated GPS capability for tracking vehicles and assets outdoors, the new indoor location tracking feature ensures it’s quick and easy to locate people and it can also generate alerts if the user enters restricted or hazardous areas. The man-down alert is another feature designed to improve worker safety, by detecting movement and issuing an alarm if the user appears to be motionless.
Easier collaboration with WAVE
Having disparate networks can make communication between teams complicated. This is overcome with WAVE Work Group Communications: a broadband push-to-talk solution that enables users to communicate with other teams and individuals securely, over any network and using any device. From two-way radios to smartphones, laptops to landlines, tablets to rugged handhelds, WAVE creates a powerful platform for interoperability, to speed up decision-making and promote seamless co-ordination between remote teams.
Instant connections, clear communication
In the past, two-way radio communication could be unclear in noisy environments. Digital radio’s noise-cancelling capability and audio amplifier makes speech much clearer, even in high-volume environments.The background noise level is automatically adjusted by MOTOTRBO’s intelligent audio feature.
For users who need to keep their hands free while using their radio, Bluetooth-enabled MOTOTRBO radios can be connected to an Operations Critical Wireless PTT and audio accessory so they can leave their radio on a desk, in a medical bag or backpack and converse seamlessly up to 30 feet away from the radio.
The evolution of MOTOTRBO DMR is taking communication way beyond voice, giving you access to a host of features and applications that can help you be more productive, keep safe and get the job done.
Click here to contact Motorola Solutions if you would like case studies or user references on how DMR is being applied in humanitarian operations and to discuss a tailored solution that fits your unique user requirements.
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Director: United Nations & International Accounts, Motorola Solutions
Big data may be the latest buzzword in the digital evolution, but what exactly is it and what does it mean for humanitarian operations?
Technological advancement has connected continents and communities in ways we never imagined possible. Today, people are no longer mere consumers of information, but have become creators and disseminators of content. And they are doing so with unrestrained ease.
For example, within 24 hours of Hurricane Sandy, over 3 million tweets had been sent. Over US$ 5 million was pledged via text messages after the earthquake in Haiti. That’s just the power of a single social media channel.
When disaster strikes, information comes streaming in through myriad sources: email; sms; messaging apps; mainstream and social media; images; video and audio recordings; UAVs; sensors and alarms. This information can prove invaluable to agencies responding to a crisis, but it can also be overwhelming – particularly when time is of the essence and resources are stretched.
The vast volume of information gathered needs to be verified, filtered and integrated in real-time. Even that is not enough. To be useful, this data has to be converted into actionable intelligence. And this is what big data is all about: it involves using sophisticated data analytics in order to present information visually and intuitively so that it’s easy to understand and share.
Impossible? No, in fact it’s already happening.
Automating tasks for faster, more informed decision-making
Unstructured data such as photographs, video, speech and audio can be stored on a computer easily enough, but in order to be understood and interpreted, complex algorithms are needed. Thanks to data analytics - which enables trend-mapping and forecasting - human functions such as decision-making can be automated so that critical intelligence gets delivered to the right person at the right time.
For example, automated video analysis tools such as Agent Vi can detect events in real time, alerting users to potential incidents when certain events occur. In addition, they can detect and extract events or important data from surveillance footage, saving on valuable man-hours spent sifting through recorded video footage.
Big data is also comprised of structured data - such as tables, graphs and records - which are more easily processed by a computer. The combination of historical analytics (data which is processed over a period of time) with real-time analytics (data processed as it comes in) creates a broad ecosystem of knowledge. Once it’s stored in a central repository, this intelligence becomes more easy to access and it can drive collaboration, sharing and collective learning.
Gaining new insights and identifying trends
While real-time data can provide new insights that improve situational awareness as events unfold, the ability to review and access historical data is key to making planning decisions. Solutions such as Command Central Analytics can offer customisable dashboard reports on incidents, showing activity timelines, the nature of an incident and the area in which it occurred. These reports can be shared via email or automatically - across devices and operating systems - enabling trends to be identified for major issues.
Of course, capturing data in the field is also of vital importance – be it the photographs and fingerprints of beneficiaries, managing and reporting on the distribution of food or emergency supplies and supporting interventions. The mobile software platform Scene Doc is designed to simplify the collection, organisation, management and sharing of data. It stores all data - including forms, diagrams, notes, photographs, audio recordings and high-resolution video – in one secure location and maintains functionality, even when there’s no network connection.
Building the digital humanitarian network
As community engagement in dealing with humanitarian crises increases, social media platforms are playing an important role in both disseminating and providing information. Facebook’s Safety Check feature has proved helpful in enabling people to establish quickly whether their loved ones are safe, Google’s maps helped citizens in Chennai to navigate around flooded streets and Twitter was used by victims whose homes were flooded to send SOS messages to rescue workers. And after the earthquake in Nepal, social media platforms were used to appeal to citizens to help overloaded aid workers with the clean-up.
One example of citizen engagement is the UN’s co-founded Digital Humanitarian Network. The DHN is harnessing the power of digital communication by crowd-sourcing volunteers around the world to monitor, analyse, map and trace events. These range from outbreaks of disease such as the Ebola virus, to locating victims after a natural disaster, ascertaining the extent of damage, as well as helping to determine where aid needs to be delivered or tracking vehicles.
The ability to collaborate with local communities can have a tremendous impact on the effectiveness of humanitarian operations but it also gives rise to new challenges which must be faced. These include threats to privacy, data integrity and security.
Through more reliable and affordable connectivity – be that GPS tracking, GSM, satellite, LTE, or two-way radio – and mobile applications that enable individuals to contribute and interact more smartly and securely, organisations such as Motorola Solutions can help humanitarian operations turn big data to their advantage.
As a stakeholder in the network of humanitarian innovators, we’re committed to working with aid agencies to facilitate better monitoring, more accurate and faster data collection, greater transparency and improved efficiency.
Director: United Nations & International Accounts, Motorola Solutions