The successful deployment of a sustainable next-gen MC system relies on more than a choice of technology or a network on; it implies important considerations of networks, emergency management processes, and ecosystem, which compose a closed-loop framework described as follows:
Streamlining the emergency management process and improving rescue and security service
Emergency Management (EM) generally refers to the management of emergencies concerning all hazards, including all activities and risk management measures related to prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. These risk-based functions are undertaken sequentially or concurrently and are not independent of each other during public safety operations.
The technological evolution affects the whole EM involving not only the public safety örst responder but also the Emergency Coordination Center (ECC), as well as the public. Combining a high-performing network and data analysis will lead to dramatic improvements in efficiency and productivity by streamlining EM throughout the entire process. During the intervention, the voice service used will be complemented by data service, through collection from multiple sources, data processing, actionable information transmission at ECC, then delivery to Incident Commander (IC) and first response at the scene via smartphones, tablets, etc. As such, rescue and security services can act more proactively, better prepared, and improve safety by creating real-time situational awareness, richer context, and insight.
Consequently, technologies have been developed for BC and MC purposes, and all the capabilities built on the next-gen networks must be smoothly integrated into the whole EM, to enable agencies to reshape their services and improve overall operational efficiency, and effective prediction prevention and protection.
Effective partnership ecosystem and stakeholder collaboration have never been more critical
Considering organizational, operational, implemental, investment and technological factors, an open ecosystem environment of networks, devices and applications is the key to success, allowing scalability and sustainability, avoiding vendors lock-in, enabling collaboration and speeding up solutions.
New standards issued by a series of organizations, mostly 3GPP for LTE, form the basis of the MC mobile networks to ensure capabilities and requirements around public-safety fundamentals, inter-vendor or inter-systems interoperability, and other aspects aligning with other organizations, vertical industry standards for a specific purpose are also needed, such as security and encryption.
The shift toward a commercial-based ecosystem opens a window for telecom operators that own wider coverage, mature LTE system, and richer technical and operational experience. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are most capable of managing and operating MC LTE systems and providing services and will play a leading role in a central position in the next-gen MC ecosystem. However, MNO must collaborate with vertical-specific networks and equipment suppliers, integrators and even hyper-scalers to deliver a Business to Business to X (B2B2X) model for public safety, along with different deployment options.
More importantly, the successful implementation of future MC systems will strongly depend on the availability of regulatory framework, stakeholder efforts, and government legislation, including, for example, dedicated frequency, obligations imposed on MNO, and required investments
Prioritize implementing a foundation framework
The multi-layer network framework encompassing radio networks, MC service and applications presents first responders' “hierarchy of needs”, in which basic requirements are at the core, including network coverage, connectivity, and voice service continuity needs to be guaranteed for operation. Therefore, agencies should prioritize implementing foundational elements (i.e., devices, RAN and core network, and basic services) that require ruggedization, extended coverage, specific hardening, Quality of Service (QoS), Priority, and Preemption (QPP) mechanisms, etc, ensuring MC communication at the public safety level of reliability, resilience,
and availability. Networks also need to support robust field communication, in a lack of coverage or during network congestion, by including a range of non-infrastructure-based systems. In addition, an open platform that comprises a core network, Mission-Critical Service (MCS) server, and an interworking gateway, etc., is required to enable enhanced capabilities such as new MCX services, seamless communications, real-time location & tracking, and more. On top of the hierarchy, advanced capabilities (i.e., video, data analysis, and AI) will further be built upon the underlying infrastructure.
So, there will be many challenges ahead that need to be taken into more consideration around implementations, including robust partnership, standardization and harmonization, technological framework, future-proof network, PMR-LTE interworking, sufficient budget and financial support, and time-to-market.
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