When we think of 5G technology, the first thing that typically comes to mind are smartphone devices. But 5G isn’t just about lower latency and faster capabilities for your phone. Alongside bringing advanced features to smartphones, the new network will also be ushering in a wave of new technology that will help power the future. And for first responders, 5G represents a new game changer.
First responders need to mobilize rapidly and make split-second decisions, but their ability to do so depends on the free flow of information available to them. Improving how critical intelligence moves can greatly increase situational awareness, which will mobilize hospital teams more quickly — and potentially save lives. The next generation of wireless technology, 5G will allow first responders to do what they’re trained to do, but with a new level of support.
At a Verizon 5G event earlier this month, New York firefighters and police got to see 5G in action. One company, Kiana Analytics, tracks the movements of people within an airport by detecting them through their devices and analyzes the patterns for suspicious activity. Kiana works with the Department of Homeland Security to gain access to maps of the airports and other data it needs to run its services. Kiana’s CEO and co-founder Nader Fathi said it currently works on Wi-Fi, and the company is testing it on 5G. Another company, Qwake Technologies, uses augmented reality to outline the environmental firefighters are seeing in the dark while they fight fires. On the scene, firefighters wear thermal cameras and the data gets transmitted back to command.
For first responders, this means that they can ditch the wires and cables and simply wear a headset on the go, taking more immediate action with live data of criminals, and being able to track locations or see more of a disaster through the use of drones. However, although first responders are optimistic about 5G’s potential, the new technology still comes with a host of privacy concerns that should be addressed.
A speedier network will help police officers decipher the massive amounts of data recorded by city cameras and machine learning will be able to analyze the data at a faster pace. But massive data collection is still pretty controversial.
For example, facial recognition technology is used by NYPD in order to compare images from crime scenes to arrest phones from law enforcement records. “Facial recognition is merely a lead; it is not a positive identification and it is not probably cause to arrest. No one has ever been arrested on the basis of a facial recognition match alone,” Sergeant Jessica McRorie, an NYPD spokesperson, wrote in an email statement.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, one of the prominent groups that has voiced concern over the police’s use of facial recognition, said that it is still concerned. It points out that the NYPD has an app that streams real-time video and police can request to run images through the app for potential matches. It estimates that the NYPD has already used facial recognition in 3,000 cases and sometimes employ haphazard methods. Nonetheless, first responders believe 5G could help them save lives faster. As they monitor us, civil liberties groups will monitor them on just how they use that technology.