First responders, including firefighters, EMS, police officers, etc., need a highly reliable and available network. They need to transfer and receive data from and to their fleets, and they need this to work autonomously and efficiently. For example, an EMS ambulance on the way to the hospital should be capable of transferring all patient’s data to the hospital before arriving. Or, a firefighter should have network coverage across the urban and rural areas.
First responders can’t waste their attention on making technology work, they need to focus on what they do, public safety.
First responder’s fleets often struggle with unreliable, unavailable, and slow connectivity, which is vital for their mission-critical applications. The headquarters might provide sensitive information to their fleets, but it might be delayed due to broken or unavailable communications.
We will be reviewing an in-vehicle SD-WAN first responder’s network reliability solution that helps resolve most of these challenges. An SD-WAN solution allows multiple vehicles to work together with intelligent software-defined data flow and remote centralized management. The in-vehicle SD-WAN appliance (Lanner’s V4G) is capable of combining or bonding different access technologies, to improve reliability and availability. V4G with PGN-600 can also be extended to support FirstNet, the nationwide (US) dedicated network for First Responders.
First responders do not need fancy gadgets and devices that over-complicate their already sensitive job. Most of the time, the technology found on current first responder’s in-vehicle gadgets, tends to be practical and almost unobtrusive. In fact, many first responders rely more on their smartphones for tasks like navigation, voice calls, translation, data transferring, and even video conferencing, than on their vehicle’s technology.
Still, to help and save the public, first responders depend highly on reliable and available communications. Losing a connection for a couple of seconds to an application or communication during an emergency is unacceptable.
Poor Network Performance
The majority of challenges that first responder fleets face is often related to network performance. They often have problems with unreliable, unavailable, and slow networks. For example, an EMS or police vehicle might be dispatched to a region with poor network connectivity (often nonexistent), where they end up isolated and without support.
Receiving Reliable and Real-time information
First responders need reliable and precise information in real-time. There might be some information that is hot and needs to be handled right now! For example, where is the precise location of the fire? Where is the backup and when is it coming? Have the residents been evacuated? With poor network access, the support of the command-and-control center is often disconnected and unable to support.
Lack of Interoperability
First responder’s networks are often inoperable between each other. For example, the lack of communication between teams of firefighters and police when responding to a collective situation has resulted in unwanted accidents.
FirstNet Ready SD-WAN Solution Designed for Vehicles
SD-WAN is capable of combining different types of access technologies, including mobile broadband, WiFi, and even satellite. It can dynamically adjust to a different technology based on its performance and ensure higher network reliability for the moving vehicle.
The first responder’s fleet can leverage the best WAN connection at a given time and location. SD-WAN can be configured with automation policies to help adjust a better WAN link when latency and jitter reach a certain threshold. For example, 4G in cities and towns and satellites in remote rural areas.
V4G: The In-Vehicle SD-WAN Appliance
V4G is a fanless in-vehicle appliance optimized for SD-WAN. It comes with multiple modems to enable load balancing, support for multiple carriers, and failover (via SD-WAN). The V4G is a great fit for fleet network management, because each vehicle runs the SD-WAN edge appliance to intelligently connect to the headquarters running SD-WAN controller and Orchestrator.
- IoT enhanced CPU. V4G comes with a new generation 10 nm process SoC (System-on-Chip) Intel Atom® x6000E processor (codenamed Elkhart Lake). This processor is a perfect fit for in-vehicle computing needs because it consumes low power and provides the right performance.
- Rich I/O functionality. V4G features one CAN bus, two serial COM ports, two HDMI outputs, and one USB and MIO port. For network, the appliance comes with three RJ45 GbE LAN ports, and for storage, one SATA/mSATA.
- Multi-modem wireless network: V4G offers three PGN removable caddies with dual SIM slots for 4G LTE cellular communications. V4G can be expanded with PGN-600, a swappable LTE radio modem designed for mission-critical communications. The PGN-600 is certified with AT&T and PTCRB and Compliant with CBRS and FirstNet.
- Native CAN Bus. The V4G appliance comes with a CAN bus interface to connect to ECU or other units of the vehicle. Collecting and analyzing CAN bus data can help improve driving behaviors, fuel efficiency, predictive maintenance, or remote vehicle diagnosis.
- Fanless in-vehicle rugged appliance. Built to endure harsh environmental conditions. V4G is compliant with E-13 standard and certified with MIL-STD-810G for shock and vibration resistance. Additionally, V4G is capable of supporting a wide range of temperatures (from -40 to 70°C).
- GPS+GLONASS dual-band. Public safety vehicles can now be empowered with GPS navigation and mapping.
First responders deal with human safety— which is a big reason why data flows and communications need to be seamless.
To ensure a reliable and available network, first responders can leverage SD-WAN, to connect their fleets with headquarters. SD-WAN delivers not only improved reliability and availability, but also security, which are precisely the requirements of first responder’s networks.
Adapt, combine, and bond connections
SD-WAN analyzes network data. It is capable of detecting changing conditions (such as jitter, latency, signal, uptime, etc.) and “intelligently” trigger network adjustments to improve reliability and availability. For example, when an ambulance or police car roams out of the signal range of a particular carrier, the in-vehicle SD-WAN appliance can dynamically switch to “better” network connections.
Additionally, the SD-WAN in-vehicle appliance can also take multiple Internet links and bond them into a single link. For example, 3G, LTE, from different providers to improve data transfers.
Improve Vehicle Area Network (VAN)
Various first responder gadgets, such as IoT devices, laptops, cameras, drones, etc., can stay connected to the vehicle via close-range technologies such as onboard WiFi. Regardless of which WAN technology the in-vehicle gateway is using, these mission-critical devices will always use the same medium.
Automation and Programmability
The basis for SD-WAN is programmability. The technology allows programmable management of the WAN network. The data center (located in the first responder’s headquarters) can better align to the needs of each vehicle (edge) and provision resources automatically (or programmatically).
SD-WAN technology uses AI to self-heal and self-optimize the WAN link. It uses data collected from application demands, connections available, and specific requirements to improve the network performance.
Access to FirstNet
FirstNet is the high-speed nationwide (US) wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. To have access to the FirstNet network, you’ll need a compliant device. By integrating PGN-600 (which is compliant with FirstNet) with V4G, the vehicle will have access to the most reliable and available communication platform designed for first responders and public safety.
Ambulance Vector: Car vector created by freepik