CCW 2018: What to Expect for Mission-Critical IoT

Part 5 in a series of reflections in the lead-up to Critical Communications World 2018

Soon after the U.S. government awarded operation of its FirstNet program to AT&T, attention shifted to internet of things (IoT) innovation that the network could foster. Sometimes referred to as the "Internet of Life-Saving Things," the basic idea is to leverage a mission-critical mobile broadband communications network to boost safety and improve public safety mission effectiveness. The concept spans disciplines: law enforcement, fire/rescue and emergency medical services. It extends, as well, to environmental safety, crowd management and traffic control. With a program filled with IoT topics, Critical Communications World 2018 provides attendees with ample opportunities to scope out the future of IoT technology in a mission-critical context. What will be some of the more interesting elements that help visitors get the most out of the Critical Communications World experience?

Mission-critical IoT remains at an early stage in its evolution. IoT developments, in general, have not been around for long and many enterprises are still working out IoT strategies. While many use cases appear promising, the economics and systems operations aspects are challenging and the question set daunting. Should it an IoT capability be provided using wireless technology? If wireless, what type of wireless technology? Is future 5G ultra-low latency or ultra-high reliability required? What kind of IoT framework should host the endeavor? In the case of mission-critical IoT, other factors can quickly emerge around difficult topics of governance, record keeping and security. Clearly, there is a lot that government leaders must weigh as they chart a course for smart city initiatives that leverage IoT technology.

Though in early days, mission-critical IoT is not entirely new. Presentations and product discussions at Critical Communications World address TETRA-enabled supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) functionality found in transport and energy distribution networks. On the public safety front, cities already deploy chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense (CBRN) detectors across the urban landscape to ensure early warning in the event of an accident or attack. Likewise, traffic management systems supply information required for optimal vehicle flows. In the US, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Apex programs strive to invigorate innovation that improves the security and resilience of the nation. An intriguing Apex program is the Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) effort that integrates sensors and wearable computing technology to enhance law enforcement and firefighting personnel safety and effectiveness.

Critical Communications World 2018 provides attendees a program rich in IoT topics. The exhibition hall features a Connected Vehicle Zone that will highlight advancements melding mobile broadband communications, TETRA, cloud computing and vehicles into next-generation response platforms. On Day One of the conference, Robin Davis, Actica, and Nick Smye, Mason Advisory, offer an in-depth session addressing innovation in transport, utilities and general industry. Not surprisingly, this masterclass provides a substantial dose of IoT, including SCADA telemetry and autonomous vehicles. 

Turning to the session streams operated over the two conference days, attendees have multiple opportunities to hear about essential topics and issues influencing the future of mission-critical IoT. 5G, of course, is a significant factor as ultra-low latency and ultra-high reliability capabilities get refined in conjunction with multi-access edge computing (MEC) and network slicing. Leadership team members from the 3GPP, including Adrian Scrase, CTO, ETSI, are slated to provide updates on the status of efforts driving these enabling technologies. In yet another session, P3 Communications GmbH subject matter expert Dr. Panagiotis Paschalidis will offer a review of smart grid and its implications for critical infrastructure communications. Finally, Motorola Solutions' CTO Paul Steinberg will provide his perspective of coming innovation that touches on wearable devices, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. 

Regardless of your starting point, government official or ecosystem partner, the Critical Communications World 2018 program offers a rare opportunity to evaluate the promise and reality of mission-critical IoT. With visitors coming from across the globe, be ready to tap the expertise of the crowd as you consider IoT's "art of the possible."