Connectivity is key for first responders | About Verizon
04.30.2019Enterprise Tech

Connectivity is key for first responders

By: Najuma Thorpe
Video: Highlights from recent Verizon's response connectivity demonstration

Verizon demonstrates priority preemption on a live network to a group of first responders.

At a recent law enforcement conference, Justin Blair provided an overview of Verizon’s public safety offering and detailed how we are quickly moving toward 5G. 

“When we think about delivering the public safety promise, we think about what customers need,” said Blair. 

That starts with secure, reliable connectivity. When it comes to placing a call for help or the ability to receive one, the single most important thing is the ability to receive a signal on your cell phone. 

Verizon continuously builds upon our decades of experience working with public safety agencies, which is why more first responders rely on Verizon than any other carrier. Priority and preemption are only pieces of the overall picture. 

Blair also showed a video from a live Response Connectivity demonstration that Verizon conducted in New York City at an invite-only event for a couple dozen customers in January. The event was a never-been-seen-before live demonstration to show how preemption would work in a real-time situation. 

“We wanted to show what we are doing with preemption,” Blair told the IWCE crowd. “Not just talking about it, but actually showing it to you live on the network.”

Due to the amount of redundancy in Verizon’s network coverage – particularly in an urban environment like downtown Manhattan – it took a bit of effort to show preemption, which only occurs in a time when the network is at capacity. To simulate preemption on a live network, 15 different cell sites had to be changed to mimic a coverage area with limited capacity. Verizon’s network coverage is so dense that if you walked to the other side floor, you started picking up a different cell site – even after the sites were reconfigured.

During the demo, you could see our public safety representatives each making calls, while a user who was not a first responder was knocked off the network. In times of emergency, and if the network is at capacity, this is essential to making sure that first responders are able to make the call. 

End to end public safety solutions

Verizon’s Response Ready Portfolio addresses three needs for first responders:

  • Response connectivity: Our Responder Private Core leverages software defined networking and network function virtualization to provide a product for public safety that is secure and agile. As we move further into the 5G era, the Responder Private Core will eventually allow transition from 4G into the 5G experience. In addition, Verizon will offer local control, allowing agencies to manage quality of service, priority and preemption locally to make sure that assets near an incident have the right experience and network performance. 
  • Response operations: Push to Talk is a critical feature for public safety, and by year’s end there will be additional features for Mission Critical Push to Talk. Some features are now available with Push to Talk Plus Group Advanced, which allows groups of up to 3,000 users. In addition, interoperability remains a focus – ensuring that first responders have access to data when needed, regardless of what network or device is in use. 
  • Response devices and equipment: Verizon powers the nation’s largest and most reliable 4G LTE network, covering more than 2.5 million square miles and more than 98% of Americans. But emergencies can happen in places without coverage. As such, exploring and broadening the deployables portfolio is a priority. We currently have a mobile connectivity trailer and mesh connectivity option in market. In addition, additional rugged devices and peripherals like LTE body worn cameras are in the works. 

5G and public safety

5G will bring faster speed and lower latency, but the technology is enabled by leveraging software defined networking, network virtualization and edge computing. For public safety, this can mean enhanced productivity and increased situational awareness. Firefighters could have a 5G-enabled mask that will let them see through a fire. Police officers could receive information in a fraction of a second about potential active shooters using facial recognition software. EMS crews can transmit patient information on a patients injuries via 5G en route to the hospital. In mission critical situations, seconds matter and can be life-saving.

Verizon also has the 5G First Responder Lab, which is an incubator where selected technology companies will build solutions for public safety on 5G.

For related media inquiries, please contact story.inquiry@one.verizon.com

About the author(s): 

Najuma is an external communications manager with Verizon, supporting the public sector business.