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Virgin Media O2 releases footage of drone running emergency services on 5G

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Sells 5G with demo of simulated call centre in a balloon taking 999 calls

UK mobile operator Virgin Media O2 has put drones on the phone in a bid to popularise 5G mobile technology. It has created a demo video showing how 5G enabled drones could help the emergency services to be more responsive and save lives. 

The video shows how Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) and Swiss drone company Fotokite tested the use of 5G connected drones to support the emergency services.

In a simulated rescue mission, conducted at Millbrook Proving Ground, a tethered Fotokite drone with an onboard Sigma system connected and instantly transferred data, using a tablet, to first responders at the location and to medical staff at a local hospital.

The proposed system allows first responders to send a tethered drone up to 45 meters above ‘a situation’ – such as a car crash. This enables those on site and colleagues in other locations to make an immediate assessment of events. Its low latency, uninterrupted aerial monitoring and two minute set up time of 2 minutes ensures no time is lost, claims VMO2. Traditional drones take 13 minutes longer to analyse a scene, it said.   

VMO2 can connect teams in emergency

The interactive drone is built to give rescue crews essential awareness tools and is so ‘user friendly’ it can controlled by anyone with the A2 Certificate of Competence, by-passing the need to obtain a drone pilot’s licence. 

The trial was deigned to show how 5G could connect people in remote and inaccessible locations to the emergency services. VMO2 claims it is developing an understanding of how 5G can help the UK’s important services.

“We are relentlessly pursuing new 5G-enabled innovations that will make real differences to people’s lives,” said Rob Searle, head of 5G at VMO2, “This could transform how emergency services operate and react to life-threatening situations.”

The public could be won over to new 5G networks when they see the impact that safety-critical data sharing in public safety applications can make, claims Chris McCall, CEO at Fotokite. “Incident commanders and decision makers have new capabilities when it comes to 5G-enabled technologies and we are excited to help public safety teams save lives and stay safe.”