By Greg Bogosian
The following is paid content sponsored by Verizon
As technology has advanced over the years and worked its way into the realm of public safety, a few notable inventions have been so revolutionary as to redefine standard operating procedures. For police officers, examples of this include radar and dashcams; for firefighters, thermal imaging cameras and PASS alarms; and for EMS in more recent years, the advent of advanced biosensors which allow for a broader understanding of patient status.
All of these technologies, however, have one serious limitation: they are only accessible to the people who are physically present at a scene or call. Transmission of information regarding what’s transpiring at these incidents, especially those which are particularly active or dynamic, is still for the most part limited to a relatively low-bandwidth technology: the human voice transmitted over LMR (Land Mobile Radio) systems.
While LMR is a tried-and-true communications method, there is only so much that responders can do to transmit information via that means when they are otherwise occupied with a scene; even commanders who are physically present may not have the best possible information to guide their response plan.
Recently, however, I had a chance to look at a new product which could transcend those limits and bring new capabilities to the responders on scene, their command staff, and dispatchers alike: Kopin Corporation’s “Golden-i” headset system with Verizon Wireless 4G LTE connectivity.
Many of you may already be thinking to yourselves, “Great, another camera,” but the Golden-i is far more than that. Imagine not only having the capability to transmit audio and video live from your point of view, but also having access to a heads-up display which can show you critical information both from your own gear (as is the case with current SCBA-display systems in fire helmets), while also receiving real-time information (like an MDT can), delivered right to you even after you’re out of your response vehicle.
What if that same system could also incorporate biometric sensors (as Golden-i does through integration with the BIOMatrix system to alert your scene commander or dispatcher when you might be in distress with an alarm that includes your location within a building or area? (PASS systems for firefighters are great, but they’re a local alarm, and might be subject to “alarm fatigue,” where you hear an alarm so often that your brain dismisses it — we’ve all heard that trill of multiple alarms going off outside a scene after people take gear off, or stand still too long.)
How about if they system also incorporated a thermal imaging camera such that you could pull up an infrared view of what’s in front of you? For firefighters, the usage is obvious, but for police officers, wouldn’t it be great to be able to go into a dark area already knowing someone’s location? Again, Golden-i makes this possible.
Perhaps one of the most exciting possibilities, added for firefighters specifically but really of use to all public safety personnel, is the ability to incorporate geographic data sets, such as building floor plans, fire hydrant locations, and more, to give the individual firefighter/responder instant knowledge of their position relative to a structure or resource, and to give their commanders a broad overview of the position of all their personnel, helping to increase safety and the efficiency and efficacy of the overall response.
All of this is possible with Golden-i when combined with the Verizon 4G LTE network. By pairing miniaturized technology with the dynamic capabilities of high-speed mobile broadband, Golden-i will allow responders to have a clear picture of what’s going on at a scene even if they’re not the first to arrive, and, through the heads-up display placed below their right eye on a lightweight boom, help give them the data they need to be safe and effective as they do their jobs. Commanders will have a portable, comprehensive means of assessing a scene within their response area without being physically on-site, and also of checking on their personnel’s well-being. Dispatchers can tell if their responders are in trouble and get help sent right away, and can tell at a glance if an incident is going to require more resources.
All of these capabilities will become a reality as Golden-i continues to be developed and deployed.
Think about how much more difficult, inefficient, and perhaps even dangerous your job would be without the technology and gear that you currently use in your everyday role as a public safety professional. Golden-i will connect and centralize many of those pieces of gear into one user-wearable interface which enables you to communicate with others in your own and other agencies (fostering true interoperability). By bridging the communications gap between spoken words (if there’s time to send them) and visual information (much more rapid transmission and reception), it will help create a new standard for response which may help public safety agencies to advance even further towards their goals of protecting life and property, while at the same time providing the highest level of safety possible for those who run into harm’s way.