August 4, 2021 16:02

5G technology and the innovation impact for police use of drones

5G networks are coming online and represent the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices than ever before.

The promising benefits to policing will be worth the wait for those forces that have invested time and resource in planning how they will maximise the introduction of 5G to increase efficiencies and improve service delivery.

Combining cutting-edge network technology and the latest devices, 5G should offer police forces connections that are multitudes faster than previous mobile technology, significantly improving the capacity and capability of current systems to enhance data capture and processing.

The new 5G networks have potential positive benefits across the full operating landscape of policing and are expected to supercharge the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, providing the infrastructure needed to carry huge amounts of data that will enable a smarter and more connected world.

While 5G has already arrived in the UK, the launch of networks is being staggered, and nationwide access is not yet currently available. But the promising benefits to policing will be worth the wait for those forces that have invested time and resource in planning how they will maximise the introduction of 5G to increase efficiencies and improve service delivery to the communities they serve.

Covid crisis

While cyber security concerns from China and COVID-19 conspiracy theories relating to 5G masts have dominated the introduction of 5G this year, senior police leadership across the world should be aware of the very real opportunities the new networks and related devices will offer in increasing levels of neighbourhood safety and national security.

The introduction of 5G, when combined with the latest disruptive technologies currently used by law enforcement and fused with Artificial Intelligence (AI), provides a unique opportunity for police forces to move forward, replacing failing systems and IT approaches and dated thinking with greater levels of organisational agility, and the ability to harness new innovations that meet contemporary policing challenges.

Applauded for their ingenuity and novel approach, senior officers have adopted the use of drones to enforce COVID-19 measures at public gatherings, enabling operators to work remotely with little or no risk of infection.

An excellent example of where the combination of 5G networks and new disruptive technology can revolutionise policing is the continued adaption and accelerated implementation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In recent months police forces across the world have utilised specially modified drones to enforce new emergency powers for public gatherings, social distancing curfews and quarantine rules, in an effort to prevent the rise of COVID-19 infections.

Applauded for their ingenuity and novel approach, senior officers have adopted the use of drones to enforce COVID-19 measures at public gatherings, enabling operators to work remotely with little or no risk of infection.

However, the police use of UAVs so far has been at the entry level of current drone capacity and capability. The development of faster, smarter drones, capable of carrying heavier payloads with greater reliability, and able to be operated beyond the visual line of sight in coordinated swarms or as part of a controlled management system, means police innovators can amplify their thinking about how the combination of drones, 5G and AI can have the greatest impact across the full policing landscape.

Research to reality

To tackle the implementation challenges and exploit the innovation opportunities offered by 5G networks to drones, a number of organisations across Europe joined forces and brought their expertise together in project 5G!Drones, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme.

The three-year 5G!Drones research and innovation project is reaching its conclusion, having examined the future application of drones with the advancements in 5G technologies.

With 20 private sector partners from nine European member states, the consortium has been designing, implementing and conducting trials of drone use cases on top of a 5G infrastructure to examine and address the challenges.

During October, 5G!Drones partners conducted a trial at the Municipality of Egaleo stadium in Greece, to test for collecting inputs and verifying the interaction between 5G and drone connectivity during crowded events.

Each incident provides a timely reminder of the poor levels of counter-drone capabilities at football venues where thousands of people gather in close proximity, but advancements in 5G technologies and interoperability with counter-unmanned aerial systems will significantly enhance this response.

The results from the trials will be of great interest to stadium security managers and police commanders. Among the many threats and risks posed to public safety inside stadiums, police commanders now have an airborne threat vector to consider – the prevention of rogue drone incursions from hostile actors. 

Rogue drone incursions at football stadiums as an example are nothing new, with matches already being disrupted in the UK, the US and across Europe. Each incident provides a timely reminder of the poor levels of counter-drone capabilities at football venues where thousands of people gather in close proximity, but advancements in 5G technologies and interoperability with counter-unmanned aerial systems will significantly enhance this response.

The 5G!Drones analysis of the performance requirements of drone applications and operating models will serve to inform police forces of the next generation of 5G technology and its impact upon the development of drones.

This learning will add significant value to assessing the future requirements of drone systems for policing and public safety, and represents only a fraction of the advancements offered by the potential within policing of the introduction of 5G networks and associated technologies.

 

The post 5G technology and the innovation impact for police use of drones appeared first on Policing Insight.

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