responder apps (Shutterstock image)

FirstNet makes space for bleeding-edge apps

When the FirstNet nationwide broadband public safety network is finally operational, responders ability to connect laptops and smartphones to the network will be a basic requirement.  But there are other, more cutting-edge technologies that could also make use of the spectrum.

For example, FirstNet is considering a technology that can provide altitude data on phone calls alongside standard GPS data, according to Neil E. Cox, a member of the FirstNet board’s technology committee.

A pressure-sensitive chipset embedded in responder phones could provide altitude data, which would allow dispatchers to know what floor a responder is on. Current technology can only provide two-dimensional data. “This is a major breakthrough in technology that will really help,” Cox said at March 14 board meeting.

The public safety community could also see benefits from new artificial intelligence applications on the market, Cox said. In the future, these AI applications could give first responders information on an address to which they are being called -- such as data on previous incidents in the area -- without the need for a dispatcher to intervene.

AI technology also could find its way into augmented-reality technologies that provide data streams in the field-of-view of emergency personnel, Cox said.

And when facial recognition technology makes it into handheld devices it will make many tasks -- checking legal status, registration information -- much quicker, Cox said, which will “make the job more efficient and protect the first responder.”

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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