Picture an emergency scenario. A speeding car skids and loses control, spinning into a tree with a terrifying smashing of glass and crunch of metal. A witness rushes over and dials 112.
An operator takes the call, but needs more information to dispatch the right emergency crews. This is where technology comes together. The operator grabs the location via GPS on the caller’s phone and asks the witness to video the scene. Thanks to the speed of 4G mobile networks, the video is streamed directly to the control room through the emergency call. The local police commander watches on his computer while paramedics get the information on a tablet device, even as they rush to the scene.
Taking no chances, the operator alerts the neighbouring police force, across a national border. All the emergency bodies can exchange enhanced multimedia information like photos, video and location data to coordinate their response.
This is the way you would want an emergency response to work. And thanks to the three-year GERYON project, this close integration of communication across devices and agencies is at last possible, even between neighbouring countries. Funded by the EU, the project has developed a system which uses the internet’s multimedia capabilities and mobile networks to enable multimedia and voice communications, whether emergency personnel are using radios, mobile phones or other specialist devices.
The project’s coordinator, Fidel Liberal, says that GERYON was conceived to address the uncertainty around the future of traditional radio-based communication systems.
“The availability of frequencies for new broadband radio systems for public safety is limited,” he explains. “Traditional radios also prevent you benefiting from all the enhanced multimedia and data functionality that we are now so used to on our mobile phones.” Emergency services demand enhanced communication capabilities, but also the necessary resilience, coverage and reliability that come with private radio systems, he adds.
The economic crisis, costs of niche technologies and the growing obsolescence of traditional walkie-talkie systems drove GERYON to create a digital platform that would provide reliable interoperability between systems as well as multimedia functionality.
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