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IoT public safety
use cases:
Driving benefits
for emergency
responders

Author: Phil Muncaster

What are the top Internet of Things (IoT) public safety use cases?  How does IoT technology have a direct impact on public safety and emergency response communications?

What is IoT for public safety?

Fundamentally, the internet of things is a network of intelligent, internet-connected devices which collect, exchange and display data. IoT for public safety communications includes sensors and devices, as well as machine-to-machine systems to aid with critical, on-the-spot decision-making.  These IoT tools can help predict incidents and help to guide incident prevention and planning efforts.  IoT data can be analyzed and used to remotely control other devices or fed through to human users in the field.

As the number of IoT public safety use cases increases, so does the productivity and efficiency of first responders across a variety of industries; from military and government, to transportation and state and local public safety. However, IoT for public safety only works as promised if supported by a powerful, reliable network.

What are the top trends driving IoT public safety use cases?

IoT for public safety is designed to utilize the right tools to get the best information to the right people as soon as possible. IoT public safety use cases are focused on driving efficiencies, improving decision-making and reducing harm through intelligent use of this near real-time data. New IoT public safety use cases are constantly emerging.

The following trends are key to advancing the future of public safety and emergency response technology.

Situational awareness and logistics support

One of the most crucial use cases of IoT for public safety is providing situational awareness during incidents or emergencies. Public safety answering points (PSAPs), responders on scene, incident command and other users with approved access to a situational awareness platform will take information feeds from the IoT devices (think cameras, carbon monoxide detectors, heat sensors, fire alarms) that can source near real-time data feeds to help inform rapid decision making.

With a combined dashboard view, or Common Operating Picture (COP), this data can be aggregated, analyzed and turned into actionable information such as situational reports, then pushed out to first responders en route to support decision-making and help mitigate risk.

Further data intelligence could be gathered by IoT devices such as cameras on responders who are at the scene, which can provide commanders with an enhanced, near real time view — as well as a useful data source for post-incident reports. 

Emergency calling

Smart sensors can automatically call 911, for example, if smoke is detected inside of a building. Additionally, cameras can help detect weapons outside of an office complex and automatically send a notification to the police of a potential incident. 

Public warning systems

Public warning systems are yet another set of helpful IoT public safety use cases that aid in both broadcasting and response to large-scale incidents, such as a natural disaster. It's vital the public is alerted as soon as possible. IoT sensors can provide an early warning system via link-ups with public displays, billboards, connected vehicles and smartphones. For example, as a hurricane approaches, data gathered from IoT devices and sensors can be collected by early warning systems to help with evacuation efforts. 

Automated emergency response

Roadside sensors with the ability to detect ground fog can be coupled with temperature gauges, dew point data and other factors to autonomously detect an area with low visibility. These inputs, combined with IoT software, can be programmed to automatically send alerts to flash "go slow" on digital signs on a mountainous road.

Should a sensor detect a leak of carbon monoxide, gas pipes could be automatically cut off. This type of automated emergency response is yet another example of the benefits of using IoT for public safety. 

The right network

Optimizing IoT public safety use cases requires the right devices and back-end analytics software and infrastructure. But it's also vital to have a robust, reliable network to ensure there's no interruption to critical data flows.

Look for network providers that can deliver:

  • Resilience, so first responders are always connected
  • Interoperability with carriers and networks, so that responders always have priority and preemption
  • 5G coverage where available to help drive lightning fast speeds and support high-bandwidth, low-latency applications, for instance that utilize HD video
  • Edge analytics to lower data costs and support faster decision-making

Discover more about how world-leading public safety technology can help reduce costs, drive efficiencies and keep your community safer.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.