Sierra Wireless: IoT Can Help Emergency Services Save Lives

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Sierra Wireless says better connectivity can help police, fire and ambulance crews power more devices and get more information on the move

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the ability to change business by automating tasks, creating new markets and providing data that can result in better decisions.

But the technology can also be used to make us safer. Providing the emergency services with quicker, connected devices that are able to share and disseminate real-time information across multiple parties could be key to saving lives.

Sierra Wireless is helping to expand this reach with the launch of its latest hardware, the AirLink MP70 LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) vehicle router. Offering faster and more reliable connections to emergency services and their vehicles the units are able to transfer data and information more than 10 times faster and four times further from the vehicle than previously.

Advanced

AirLink_MP70“This is next magnitude of connectivity,” Bryan O’Flaherty Wills, director of product management at Sierra Wireless, told TechWeekEurope. “This is advanced IoT”.

He claimed the modern police car will often contain a rugged laptop for dispatch and records management and a router, along with other specialised tools such as live digital video surveillance, body-worn cameras and automated license plate recognition (ALPR) systems.

Sierra says its new router can connect all these devices to the same high-speed network, leading to more reliable data transfers. In the UK, EE is building a £1 billion LTE-powered Emergency Services Network (ESN).

Top of the company’s list is the use of live video streaming via body cams or wearable headsets, which would be able to provide up to date streams of events that again could possibly save lives.

Wills says that video is, “a big new frontier for a lot of these agencies” and can offer better protection than ever – provided the networks being used to transmit the data is fast and reliable.

However the technology can also be used for more basic functions, such as tracking the location of employees or vehicles (aspects which could also be useful in heavy industry and fleet management).

But the IoT connectivity can also inform a central control centre about vehicle breakdowns, equipment malfunction, or, as Wills notes, whether a police car’s weapon rack has been unlocked – a detail which could prove vital in safeguarding citizens.

“Our customers wouldn’t call themselves IoT customers,” Wills said. “But increasingly, they’re interested in building intelligent systems that are making autonomous decisions.”

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