Emergency assistance via the Internet of Flying Things

Published on 18/11/2019 in Innovate

Emergency assistance via the Internet of Flying Things

The police and fire service are increasingly using drones to monitor and safeguard security. Speed and image quality are crucial here. In this respect, 5G promises to stand out.

Tracking down fugitives and missing persons

Drones have numerous applications for the forces of law and order: keeping an eye on things during public events, locating flashpoints, helping to track down fugitives or missing persons, etc. “With the help of unmanned flying objects, the police and fire service can quickly form an image of what is happening on the ground. That enables them to guide the people on site appropriately,” explains Tom De Jaeger, CEO at Tersec, which makes the camera images and GPS coordinates of the drones visible and available in real time.

The better the image quality, the more accurately the police and fire service can survey possible problem situations and therefore make efficient decisions.

Tom De Jaeger, CEO of Tersec


5G: a sharper, faster picture

At the moment, a video transmitter with a SIM card sends the drone images to the competent services over the 4G network. “The better the image quality, the more accurately the police and fire service can assess potential problem situations,” Tom explains.

“The 4G network provides images in Full HD quality, but there is room for improvement. A 4K resolution gives subtle details in sharper focus, which is a great advantage in delicate operations. The arrival of 5G makes this 4K image quality possible,” Tom notes. “What’s more, 5G keeps image delays to an absolute minimum. When the drone pilot operates the device via the 5G network, it will respond to instructions even faster, which is very important to ensure a safe flight.”

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What offers 5G?

Westkust police zone pioneers

The forces of law and order view and analyze the drone images in real time on the Tersec Tactical Observation Platform. “That is done in the control center, in aircraft or on site,” Tom explains. He mentions the Westkust police zone as a pioneer in this. The corps has three drone pilots who have benefited from extensive theoretical and practical training.

The police zone has three drones with a thermal imaging camera: one practice device and two devices that can be deployed on the ground. The drones provide Westkust with assistance during public events, when tracking down missing persons, directing traffic and conducting judicial investigations, etc.

What about privacy?

As an instructor, Tom speaks from experience when he talks about the level of training. “The bar is high, both for theory and practice. It can easily be compared with a light version of the sport pilot course (PPL). The training focuses mainly on specific emergency situations.” According to Tom, the initial objections to drones have largely faded away.

“A 2016 royal decree set out the rules more clearly. Recreational and commercial uses are bound by strict rules and also fall under the new Camera Act. Drones are equipped with a security mechanism which sends the device back to its lift-off point if it loses contact with the ground station. What’s more, the data and images collected by the police are sent straight to a secure server. So, the data are under control.”

5G keeps image delays to an absolute minimum. When the drone pilot operates the device via the 5G network, it will respond to instructions even faster.

Tom De Jaeger, CEO of Tersec


Internet or drones?

Tom expects drones to be able to communicate with one another and exchange data on their location and direction in the future. He sees an important role for the 5G network here. The question remains how the legislation on the ‘Beyond Visual Line of Sight’ flights will evolve. In Belgium, pilots have to maintain visual contact with the drone while, in Australia, autonomous drone flights carrying medical packages are already permitted.

Tersec develops and integrates systems for police and emergency services. The company makes the drones’ camera images and GPS coordinates available immediately. That way, the emergency services gain a real-time overview of the situation on site, benefiting situation awareness.

Tom De Jaeger is the founder of Tersec. The company specializes in system development and integration for emergency services. Tom also gives training courses in his area of expertise at Noordzee Drones – a training and knowledge center for drones and drone pilots.

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