Speed Up Response Times and Cut Costs by Planning your Emergency Communication Network in Advance
Planning ahead for disasters is inherent to humanitarian organisations. However, the impact of advanced emergency preparedness in terms of time and cost had not been fully realised, until a recent study which was commissioned by UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP)
Focusing on Chad, Pakistan and Madagascar, the study found that investments in early preparedness could speed response times by up to 50 days and deliver a return on investment as high as 2:1. The ability to improve response times – particularly in high-risk areas – presents significant potential for saving more lives during a crisis, while the impressive cost savings could help tight budgets to stretch even further.
The study examined four core humanitarian operational areas – including logistics and procurement – and highlighted the benefits of pre-positioning emergency supplies such as telecommunications.
Ensuring You’re Connected in the Moments that Matter
A co-ordinated, cohesive response to a crisis situation is impossible without communication. And preparing an emergency response communication network in advance can make it much quicker and more cost-effective to deploy.
Communication is not only essential to emergency response, however: it can also help to predict and prevent disasters. For example, sensors and alarms can provide early warnings before an incident occurs and help to expedite evacuations, while the remote management and control of infrastructure such as power supplies and water flow can limit the extent of damage.
Partnering for Preparedness
Motorola Solutions’ specialisation in critical communication networks, combined with our extensive experience working with disaster response organisations around the world, enables us to share our knowledge to address the potential hazards and desired outcomes of a crisis situation.
We are able to work closely with humanitarians on the ground, harnessing their awareness of the local environment, communities and infrastructure to plan an advance emergency communication network that meets their particular requirements, is robust and resilient and can be set up in the shortest time possible.
This includes identifying the most suitable locations for rapid deployment, overcoming topographical challenges, locating storage facilities, providing 24-hour technical support and delivering on-demand training so that users get the most out of their equipment.
Where to start?
When preparing an emergency response network, a good starting point is to identify which communication networks are already in place and to establish how resilient they are: can these networks be relied upon to keep humanitarian teams connected, whenever and wherever they need to?
Once these factors have been taken into account, we can consider how to complement or strengthen the existing network. This could be through the addition of a robust, digital two-way radio network that enables voice and data communication to be prioritised. It ensures that critical transmissions get through, even in harsh conditions. The immediacy and cost-effective nature of two-way radio, as well as its ability to cover vast distances, makes it a viable solution for advanced emergency preparedness, especially in cases where the communication infrastructure has been destroyed.
MOTOTRBO DMR digital two-way radios offer a vast range of advanced features to maximise operational efficiency and safety. In addition to high-performance voice and data functionality and enhanced range for more reliable communications, their integrated GPS can help to improve response times by identifying the location of personnel and vehicles. DMR radios also offer an emergency mode option which a user in distress can activate, to send an emergency alarm message to the control room, as well as the ability to interrupt transmissions for emergency broadcasts.
With over 3000 trunked MOTOTRBO radio systems deployed worldwide, a complete ecosystem of services and expertise is in place to ensure the long-term feasibility and resilience of your network. A wide choice of applications makes it possible to customise communications according to the specific needs of different humanitarian work teams, with additional features such as automated alarm management, job ticketing and dispatch.
In situations where a communication infrastructure does exist, LTE can deliver on-demand broadband, which can be intelligently prioritised. Multimedia information can be shared in real time across networks and devices using WAVE On Cloud. Users can receive an SMS containing a network set-up file and Application download link, together with a user account and password. This allows Push-to-Talk communication to be extended quickly and easily to smartphones and tablets, storing data securely in the cloud for centralised access.
Once a kit list has been drawn up, a strategically-placed warehouse needs to be located for storage and deployment. This provides ready access to the right technology in-country, which enables communication to be set up much more rapidly and seamlessly. There is also the option to access kit stored by an in-country Motorola Solutions Distributor, who can offer 48-hour readiness.
The establishment of an advance emergency response network can be done in a flexible manner – either via a once-off capital investment, or as a service model investment which can then be managed and maintained for a fixed annual fee.
Keeping Everything Working as it Should
Having all your equipment stored and ready to set up is all well and good, but when disaster strikes, you also need reassurance that everything will be in perfect working order and that batteries are fully charged.
Motorola Solutions offers a range of Managed Services to keep humanitarians connected and reduce the total cost of ownership. Covering onsite and technical support, repair, preventative maintenance, network event monitoring and upgrades, Managed Services allows humanitarian organisations to avoid the distraction of trying to keeping pace with technology and the cost of having to retain the requisite skills in-house. The ability to offload these operational risk, cost and management responsibilities also results in a sharper focus on the moments that matter.
Better planning means better outcomes
The evidence presented in the UNICEF/WFP study provides a strong argument for investing in emergency preparedness. Such measures ensure that humanitarians are well prepared to respond to crises backed by a resilient, critical communications network. This approach can also improve the outcome of humanitarian operations and realise substantial cost savings.
Get in touch to find out more about how we can partner with you to tailor your emergency response network so that you have the resilience and support, when and where you need it.
During April, the World Bank hosted a panel discussion which highlighted the symbiotic relationship between security and development operations. It was noted that, if countries affected by conflict are to have a chance at recovery, they need a sustainable sense of security and lasting peace. This creates the platform for development, whereby economies can start to be rebuilt, international investors can find the reassurance they seek and local job opportunities can be created. The discussion also considered that fragile societies need a long-term perspective - which hinges on ongoing stability - in order to avoid the impoverishment and hopelessness that makes them susceptible to radicalisation and corruption.
The regional spread of conflict has made it far more complex to address, requiring closer collaboration between governments and the organisations helping them to create an environment for growth. Rules and regulations need to be simplified, so that a common strategy can be rolled out more quickly and effectively and access to basic services such as utilities, education and healthcare can be re-established.
Compounding this challenge is the spread of technology, which has raised aspirations, potentially fuelling tensions. In addition, developing nations are faced with increasing debt and the need to fund more advanced and protracted security operations.
The Need for Private Investment
According to a report by the World Economic Forum, Africa will need around $100 billion each year, in order to address the gaps in infrastructure and less than half of that is currently financed. Therefore, it is evident that unemployment, mass migration and instability can only be addressed with the help of private investment.
Considering the continent’s potential for commercial opportunities, it raises the question as to what is impeding private investment. The G-20 Compact with Africa (CWA) initiative is working to bring G-20 members, partner countries and international organisations together to develop a blueprint for economic development. Responsible leadership and investment in infrastructure will be key to enabling what is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world to realise its productive potential and create opportunities for growth.
A joint report by the African Development Bank, IMF and World Bank on the G-20 CWA notes that: “Priority should be given to investment in infrastructure, which is critical to attract private investment, connect Africa’s regional markets and better integrate them into global value chains.”
So, how does a two-way radio network form part of this solution?
A Secure, Digital Two-Way Radio Network Underpins Ongoing Security
Communication is a crucial part of any country’s infrastructure. And a secure, digital two-way radio network is vital for the establishment of a secure and safe community. The cost-effective nature of two-way radio has resulted in widespread adoption in African countries, as it presents a viable solution in the midst of rising debt and decreased stability. However, Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world in deploying nationwide public safety networks and this is largely due to a lack of funding.
With the blurring of boundaries between security and development, funding can now be made available to build a critical communications infrastructure for ongoing stability. A secure public safety network supports police and emergency response operations in addressing a lack of resources, by increasing efficiency in providing services to the public and helping them to move from a reactive to a preventative approach.
It achieves this by:
Over time, other critical data services – including the remote monitoring and control of water, electricity, oil and gas supplies, digital identification, emergency response and crime watch – can be added to the network.
Motorola Solutions has substantial experience in providing mission-critical communications infrastructure that is designed to meet the particular needs of countries – be it based on LTE, TETRA or Astro.
Here are just a few examples:
From design, planning and implementation to systems integration, network management, maintenance and cloud hosting, Motorola Solutions has the field-proven expertise and solutions portfolio to help close the infrastructure gap, support sustainable security and promote economic development.
Building the Internet of Humanitarian Things (IoHT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) represents our ability to connect devices, machines and infrastructure across wireless networks and enable them to send and receive data. IoT has allowed us to automate processes and connect our world in ways we never thought possible, transforming productivity and creating immense potential for applications across every industry. In the humanitarian world, this potential could help to save more lives and reduce the impact of disasters.
Technological advancements are already greatly enhancing humanitarian operations – as we are seeing in the use of electronic ID cards to manage claims for food assistance in the Philippines’ Food for Assets Programme and the deployment of iris scan technology for the purchasing of food in refugee camps in Syria, for example.
So when I consider how Motorola Solutions’ Industrial Internet of Things is proving life-saving by ensuring that critical infrastructure – such as power stations and water utilities – is kept up and running, then I cannot help but postulate what opportunities these solutions present for aid organisations.
Connecting People, Equipment and Infrastructure
The remote monitoring and control of infrastructure across resilient, secure wireless networks gives intelligence to critical assets, enabling them to detect malfunctions, fluctuations in temperature or leaks and raise alarms automatically to avert disaster. The application of such solutions abounds - from early warning systems that trigger alarms or broadcast pre-recorded messages across multiple control centres, to automatically adjusting well pumping, controlling water quality or regulating system pressure to maximise efficiency. Municipal infrastructure - such as motorways and street lights - is already being managed and controlled remotely, while real-time weather and soil data is being incorporated into the remote management and control of crop irrigation, to reduce waste and boost yields.
Our ability to attach sensors to virtually anything – people, machines, vehicles and infrastructure – enables us to improve the flow of real-time information and optimise efficiency way beyond critical infrastructure. Motorola Solutions has introduced sensors in innovative ways which have had a significant impact on public safety, enabling the command centre to receive notification when a police office pulls a gun from a holster, for example. Information is also relayed regarding the officer’s heart rate, registering increasingly intense activity which can save time and potentially lives. Our Augmented Reality (AR) headsets make it possible to provide a bird’s-eye, 3D view of an incident, combining holographic and virtual images that allow tactical response to be determined miles away from an incident.
We have the potential to share this technological expertise to help humanitarians benefit from a similar transformation in operational efficiency and the way in which data is used and managed.
Taking Wearable Technology, AR and iOT to Aid Workers
Motorola Solutions has invested in a number of organisations and start-ups to promote technological innovation that enables a smarter, more connected response. Here are just a few examples of the possibilities these partnerships present:
We’re constantly facing new challenges and imagining new ways to improve the safety and operational impact of first responders. If your organisation is looking to collaborate or pursue “IoHT” opportunities to make humanitarian operations smarter and more connected, please drop me a line.
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.
For more information:
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.
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