Mission critical LTE in practice

I had a chance to participate the SALUS final validation event, which was arranged on 14. – 15.6.2016 at the Emergency Services College in Kuopio, Finland.
Approaching Kuopio.
SALUS is a EU funded project studying technologies, networks & business models and developing demo systems illustrating next generation PPDR communication tools. Key enablers for the anticipated new applications and communication methods are broadband radios i.e. LTE and WiFi.

A short excerpt from the SALUS final validation event introduction:
This event will include a variety of simulated public safety emergency conditions similar to real emergencies, occurring in a specialized 38-hectar-wide training ground. The goal is to prove the need and the advantages of using LTE mobile broadband technology in public safety scenarios whilst still ensuring interworking with Wi-Fi, TETRA and TETRAPOL technologies. Many key functionalities, such as push-to-talk, group communications, messaging, video streaming, video call, video-group call, high-speed access to data, seamless roaming and support for emergency calls by the public in affected areas, will be demonstrated.

And many interesting working demos were shown in the event. Below I briefly explain some applications and use cases implemented by the SALUS consortium members

Video was of course widely used for situational awareness. Different video cameras were used including body cameras, cameras in drones and fixed surveillance cameras with remote controlled pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ). And live video was streamed over LTE. Quite interesting learning was that videos sent from body cameras are not very useful for situational awareness due to shaky images and missing PTZ control. Maybe with some significantly improved image stabilization the body cameras could be used also for situational awareness. Probably the role of body cameras is to create video records for any later analysis of events or to be used as potential evidence. On the other hand a live video from a drone was giving excellent situational awareness information for command and control center (CCC).

CCC can see live videos from multiple sources.
Live video from a drone (large display on the table)
Location of emergency service teams is commonly available already today in CCCs. But of course this was demonstrated also in the event. Interesting application in CCC was based on smart board allowing CCC officers to draw easily instructions to a map and send them quickly to first responders with smartphones. CCC officer could for example give graphical navigation guidance to first responder team approaching the scene.
Smart board application.

Furthermore it was shown how CCC can also know the indoor location of first responders in known buildings. The demo system was using WiFi radios providing beacon signals from known indoor locations allowing the indoor positioning device to report the indoor location.

Monitoring applications were demonstrated especially focusing on safety of first responders. For example CCC got real time bio-vital signs such as heart rate.

In the event some scenarios used WiFi as complementary radio technology. One use case was WiFi mesh network providing coverage extension from the edge of LTE coverage. Another use case was WiFi based direct communication.
WiFi mesh in vehicles.
Although voice communication is not the reason for mission critical LTE, group call interworking was also a very interesting demo. There were live TETRA, Tetrapol and LTE networks in the event and it was shown how dispatcher can dynamically connect TETRA, Tetrapol and PTT over LTE users to same call group. And interworking between systems enabled group calls between all technologies.

It was a great event and proved that modern mobile broadband technology enables innovative applications for emergency services improving efficiency and safety.
A drone with streaming video camera.


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