Enabling collaboration in public safety services

Friday, 24 September, 2021

Enabling collaboration in public safety services

In an incident, diverse information input needs to be collated and filtered according to the receiver.

The handling of public safety situations to greatest effect requires a coordinated approach between different agencies and the local population. This is challenging when each agency operates with different priorities and uses different technologies. Coordination suffers when responders and connected things cannot easily communicate with each other.

For example, a road traffic incident might trigger an alert from a traffic flow sensor. There may be other alerts from closed circuit television (CCTV) monitors, from in-vehicle emergency call systems or via social media reports from eyewitnesses. Each reporting channel belongs to a different service provider, whether it is a road transport agency, vehicle telematics service provider, emergency service or social media platform. Standardisation of communications and interactions between Internet of Things (IoT) applications represents a pathway to closer coordination.

Standard for distributed IoT systems

In 2012, a group of national standardisation bodies launched the oneM2M initiative to establish a standard for end-to-end and interoperable IoT systems. The standard addresses situations where one or more IoT applications consume data from devices and sensors that are potentially sourced from different vendors.

Communications might involve a gateway, or edge-processing device, operating over a local network. Another possibility involves communications between devices and applications, going through an intermediary IoT platform.

Systems built on oneM2M technical specifications include policy controls for data sharing. These benefit data suppliers and data consumers collaborating across service provider silos and mixed vendor solutions.

Collaborative tools for emergency communications

The oneM2M standard builds on a distributed architecture and an ever-expanding toolkit of middleware services. Systems can be deployed quickly at the site of an emergency, hosted on a local device such as an emergency services vehicle to communicate with other devices at the scene and back to the command centre.

OneM2M’s various access control mechanisms grant authorised entities (eg, police, fire and rescue teams) access to devices and data based on profile information. One tool, Communications Management, supports prioritisation and store-and-forward handling of messages. System operators can specify policies so that lower priority messages are buffered and scheduled around higher priority messages while dealing with congestion issues on the underlying communications networks.

With the Group Management tool, oneM2M supports the capability to manage communications across groups of devices and individuals such as emergency responders (eg, the formation, disbandment and fanout of messages to groups).

Among other uses, the Location tool supports the monitoring and location tracking of individuals equipped with clothing sensors. It also allows devices to report when they enter/exit a particular area.

The Subscription and Notification tool enables applications to subscribe to events of interest. This may be based on specified criteria and push notifications if/when these events occur (eg, “let me know when the power to a particular house has been restored”). It also ensures that applications are not overwhelmed with data and only react to trigger events relevant to their public service or emergency function.

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