How the 5G Network Will Improve Public Safety

The face of modern technology is unmistakably shaped by its mobility and many workforces are now reliant on mobile devices such as rugged tablets to work on the front line. The safety of workers and the security of data are major concerns for industries looking to operate with mobile technology, not to mention the necessity to improve the efficiency and accuracy of tasks.

There are many examples of mobile technology being used on the front lines, such as police officers completing reports, paramedics providing care and firefighters coordinating operations. But these mobile devices are nothing without the network which keeps them connected and allows vital information to pass between workers for the safety of the public. As is the case with all technology, networks are evolving too and the pace of communications is rapidly increasing as 4G is surpassed by 5G.

As a public safety organisation you may have already begun the discussion around how 5G will affect your existing mobility solutions and your future mobility plans. When will your operation need to upgrade infrastructure and devices? How will 5G benefit your organisation? When is the right time to migrate?

5G is the fastest growing mobile technology in history and has now surpassed 4G. With 5G now widely established around the UK, first responders can protect and serve their communities, backed by a fast and secure network.

In this article, we take you through an overview of how 5G can benefit public safety, helping you identify how this technology could be utilised now or in the future by your organisation.

How will 5G benefit public safety?

1. Wired speeds

Improving on the existing 4G by 10 to 100 times the speed, 5G will deliver the equivalent speeds of wired internet at up to 10 Gbps.

2. Low Latency

Simply put, latency refers to the time taken for information to travel from a mobile device to a server and back to a mobile device. 5G promises to provide low latency meaning that the time taken for vital information to travel to the server and return to the frontline mobile device can happen in as little as 1 millisecond with ultra-reliable low latency applications. 5G spec calls for a maximum latency of 4 milliseconds. While it may take some time to achieve this standard across all devices and platforms, 5G is on the way to providing the network able to support this, paving the way for technologies such as autonomous emergency vehicles.

3. Reduction in Energy

A study by Nokia and Telefónica found that 5G networks are up to 90% more energy efficient per traffic unit than legacy 4G networks. Although connecting to higher speed devices, 5G will not require more energy to achieve this. In addition to this, with much less power required, IOT devices can expect sensor applications to be more viable that were previously not, due to excessive battery changes.

4. 1000x bandwidth per unit area

Thanks to a major increase in bandwidth, we see 100 times the number of devices that can be supported by 5G. With more devices connected all of the time, 5G supports 1 million devices per square kilometre compared with just 100,000 with 4G LTE. 

5. Improved Signal Quality

A core component of 5G technology is Massive MIMO (Multiple Input-Multiple Output). In essence, this is a wireless network that allows the transmitting and receiving of multiple data signals, simultaneously over the same radio channel. For densely populated areas, this is a breakthrough for first responders operating in cities to stay connected to critical information at all times with no loss of signal.

5G Enterprise Applications

With the improved connection, low latency and increased bandwidth of 5G, mobile applications will undoubtedly improve their performance. The future holds some exciting possibilities for public safety applications such as:

1. Situational Awareness

5G can provide an unbelievable wealth of knowledge to first responders via the smart devices in a home. Any first responder, be it paramedics, firefighters or police could use 5G enabled devices to access security camera feeds for situational information. Firefighters could assess a burning home before entering, 999 callers could send live video footage to dispatchers enabling first responders to react quicker and with more information.

2. Incident Response

Thanks to the incredible increase in speed and reliability of 5G, first responders can rely upon more futuristic applications such as augmented reality, virtual reality and cross reality to ensure the best incident response with the assistance of remote experts. With additional connections to people, assets and services, additional intelligence is accessed adding safety and efficiency. Vital signs of first responders can be tracked and monitored via infrastructure and building sensors, providing their exact location should they need rescue or assistance. Teams can be much more efficient in recognising outcomes for the safety of their workers. Police may be able to access facial recognition data in order to identify a suspect. They could undertake life-threatening activities remotely through mobile-operated robots and augmented reality. This would ensure the safety of first responders during tasks such as clearing hazardous substances or disarming explosive devices.

3. Asset Management

With improvements in mobile technology alongside the considerable power and speed of 5G coverage, emergency services can benefit from the increased streamlining and efficiency that these mobile solutions bring. Police, Fire and Ambulance services can all deploy mobile solutions with the ability to maintain contact with their equipment and track its location in real-time. The use of RFID tags on emergency and medical equipment ensures that equipment is in the right place and loaded back onto the emergency vehicle after use, eradicating the loss of items and the inevitable cost with the use of a rugged tablet. The delivery of medical supplies at the scene of an accident or the analysis of biological samples could all be transported by a tablet operated drone ahead of the transportation of the patient, saving time and potentially lives.

4. Emergency Medical Response

With the high speeds and low latency of 5G, the delivery of emergency medical response can be significantly improved. In practical terms, real-time patient data and diagnostic information can be sent directly from the scene of an accident or ambulance ensuring hospital teams are aware of patient diagnostic data ahead of the patient’s arrival. A patient’s medical data may be linked to the paramedic providing emergency care, ensuring it is tailored to the individual needs of the patient. This data could be made available to a doctor via a live feed who would be able to speak directly to the patient or advise a paramedic on treatment remotely from a hospital.

5. Data Driven Decision Making

5G enables first responders to access the same data from a remote location via a rugged tablet as they would in the office. Police Officers could access data such as finger-prints in real-time as well as criminal history to adapt their response accordingly. Other tasks such as transcribing conversations may be eliminated thanks to voice recognition, making reporting more accurate and less time-consuming.  Crime scenes could be scanned using drones with detailed reports being shared with multiple team-members for immediate action.


The introduction of 5G technology has paved the way for first responders to benefit from faster, safer and more effective processes. While this article outlines the potential operational improvements that could be made possible with 5G, these are only a fraction of its potential.

Although 5G technology is readily available, it is generally concentrated in highly populated areas and coverage in rural areas can still rely on 4G or be non-existent. Where 5G is unavailable, applications designed to utilise the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G could suffer, affecting performance and safety.

The roll-out of 4G took many years and it’s likely that 5G will be no different. So for public safety and the introduction of 5G devices, there is plenty of time to migrate. While carriers continue to improve their 4G coverage, current technologies are likely to be supported and even improved for some years to come. However, as 4G devices come to need replacing, consider this a perfect time to upgrade them with 5G devices to spread the heavy financial burden and ensure your workforce is ready for when the 5G future becomes the here and now.