Five tech companies developing public safety tools ranging from magnetic sensors, to drones, to augmented reality for use in hazardous environments will be the first cohort working in Verizon’s dedicated 5G First Responder incubator lab.
First announced in November, the Washington, D.C. 5G lab will house a total of 15 startups over the year, where developers spend three months and can collaborate with Verizon and Responder Corp on 5G use cases and go-to-market strategies.
The first round of participants, chosen out of more than 50 applicants, include:
Adcor Magnetic Systems – which is developing sensors to detect, identify, track and correlate on a digital 3D environment.
Aerial Applications – creating drone tools to create actionable insights out of visual data.
Blueforce Development – building situational awareness solutions and sensors to enhance field operations and communication.
Kiana Analytics – a physical safety and security platform with engagement analytics for real-time location/situational awareness.
Qwake Technologies – working on augmented reality products to help first responders such as firefighters see in dangerous conditions, like smoke-filled areas with zero visibility.
“We’re thrilled to announce the first cohort of this program and to be working with a handful of companies that give first responders a clear advantage and a team of entrepreneurs that are committed to getting that edge into the field as fast as possible,” said Bryce Stirton, co-founder & president, Responder Corp, in a statement. “There’s a clear excitement in the Program to experience how 5G will bring these already powerful solutions to new heights. There’s even more excitement to see how these 5G enabled technologies will help first responders.”
One of the promises of 5G is super-low latency, which goes hand in hand with edge computing. While not at the 5G First Responder lab, Verizon last month performed successful edge computing tests using AI-powered facial recognition software applicable to a public safety use case of a missing child.
Speaking about the tests during an interview at MWC 2019 Barcelona last month, Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s SVP of Network Technology Planning, explained it was a combination of two technologies in one use case.
“We had our 5G radio access network that was providing really high bandwidth and really low-latency,” Koeppe explained. “Part one of latency is the improved air link that you get from the 5G spec, part two of latency is where you do the compute processing for the use case.”
He painted a scenario of when a child goes missing and a static image must be matched against data feeds from numerous HD public safety cameras capturing public crowd information and then mapped based on proximity to that camera.
The need to respond is immediate, and the processing of data feeds and software comparison to the base image is happening on the edge of the network and not back at the core since very low latency is needed to perform the function effectively, Koeppe explained.
“A combination of your 5G radio access network and your edge compute network is what gives you single digit latency on your 5G network overall,” Koeppe said. “Use cases like [locating a missing child] become reality.”
“You have to have the ability to program your network via software in order to do that effectively,” Koeppe noted.
Verizon said its 5G lab in New York City served as a model for helping address the needs of first responders. Last May, startup BriefCam used the NYC lab to showcase the potential of 5G’s ultra-wide bandwidth and speed to improve video analytics for city planning for security.
In addition to its DC and NYC labs, Verizon has 5G innovation centers in Palo Alto, Calif., Los Angles, and Cambridge, Mass.