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Real solutions in real situations

Innovative technologies that utilize existing cell technology to relay back environmental data are already in use. Some of them challenge the imagination. 

There are few things more important for first responders during a disaster than the need to successfully communicate with each other on the scene and others who are not.

Versatility is important, according to Bryan Schromsky, Director of Federal Government Mobile and Connected Solutions at Verizon.

“As we talk about 4G and move into the new realm of 5G, having greater connectivity, greater bandwidth is key. You can use it for applications such as voice and text, and you can do things like video.”

Video applications have significant growth potential, because of future platforms, that will be developed. But they’re already being put to good use.

“Using drone technology to inspect damaged structures”, said Schromsky, is one of those uses.

He said, “For us, it’s cell towers, but also, where I grew up along the Jersey Shore, it’s used for inspecting dunes, as well as flooding where vehicles cannot go or they don’t have access to different watercraft.”

Drone technology, according to Schromsky, provides an increased level of safety, during a disaster, because it delivers the ability to identify “potential hazards for first responders,” and is invaluable in locating people that may be missing.

Schromsky indicated that as 5G, the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks is deployed; vital applications that operate on 4G technology will need bridges to make them functional in the future.

“What I mean by that is; today we monitor things like tidal locations -the rise and lowering of tides. We actually monitor seismic activities. We monitor air, gas water and radioactive with different sensors on them.”

In addition to bridging, he said these applications can also be “interlocked to the newer technologies.”

That’s done using a new technology called Mobile Edge Compute. It’s designed to enable developers to build applications for mobile end-users and wireless edge devices with low latency.

The future of communications is going to require a combination of technologies.

“It’s going to be a mix of both new and I wouldn’t say old”, Schromsky said, “but also current technology. Depending on what you’re trying to do, you don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest technology to accomplish that mission.”

As far as what’s on the horizon, he said, “I think drones will expand. What you’re starting to see now are connected drones.”

He’s not talking about the drones DoD uses at 30 or 40 thousand feet.

“What we’re talking about having, is say, 15 drones fly in a line, say maybe a half-mile wide to do a search and rescue mission.”

That, he said, “can’t be accomplished today”, because the technology is not available. “But, that’s where we see cellular technology taking that drone technology to the next level.”

Along those lines, robotics advances, like mechanical dogs, are being developed and deployed by military and civilian aviation for foreign object detection.

“They’re actually scanning flight lines to see if there’s debris, because you don’t want debris impaling the wing of an aircraft or being sucked into a jet intake.”

Cellular technology can be used to stay connected with those tools.

The impact of climate change on natural disaster potential is another area where tools connected by cellular technologies can make a difference. In that domain, Schromsky said, there are two aspects to consider -the reactive and the proactive.

Monitoring snowcaps using remote sensors on high elevations is a prime example.

“That’s important because depending on the precipitation; as we go through the upcoming fire season, they have a pretty good model to say hey these are the most likely hotspots. So let’s act accordingly and stage resources,” Schromsky said.

Innovative technologies that utilize existing cell technology to relay back environmental data are already in use.

Some of them challenge the imagination.

There are, said Schromsky “high-resolution cameras that actually take hundreds of frames per second, and they are measuring the size of a raindrop.”

He said the data collected from the cameras are relayed back to scientists and helps them predict the level of precipitation a given region will get during a particular weather season.

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