Verizon Frontline: 5G, Ultra-Wideband Emergency Response Network

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala, Author at eWEEK.

The Verizon Frontline is a network service dedicated to supporting first responders during emergencies and regular, non-crisis days.

Communications play an essential role in emergency response. Quick, accurate decisions can save lives, which means first responders need real-time information to help make those decisions.

Verizon Frontline is a service dedicated to supporting first responders both during emergencies and regular, non-crisis days. The service, currently aiding 35,000 agencies across the U.S., helps prepare and respond to, mitigate, and recover from events through coordinated training exercises, data monitoring, and infrastructure maintenance.

The network’s focus is reliability and resiliency, with billions of dollars invested into infrastructure such as backup generators and fiber network diversification.

First Responders Need an ‘Always On’ Network

To ensure that the network remains operational during emergencies like storms and tornadoes, Verizon must provide reliable communications to first responders 24/7, 365 days a year.

Verizon recently hosted a webinar to share how it achieves that using various technologies and innovative solutions, in addition to providing a dedicated support team and network prioritization for first responders.

5G Powers Emergency Services

At the core of Verizon Frontline is a 5G ultra-wideband network that offers faster speeds, greater bandwidth, and lower latency than 4G. (A survey conducted by Verizon last year found that 80 percent of first responders view 5G as critical.)

On top of that, Verizon Frontline offers technologies and solutions that enhance the effectiveness of first responders. These include:

  • A large fleet of nearly 600 deployable technology units and over 1,000 portable generators can be quickly dispatched to areas experiencing power failures due to natural disasters.
  • Drone technology is used to create a portable 4G LTE bubble, but also to assist first responders in search and rescue operations. The drones can carry technology such as infrared devices to detect people trapped in remote or densely forested areas.
  • Dedicated satellite links are used for backhauling mobile assets. The satellite links ensure continuous communication even in the most challenging circumstances.
  • Wireless Network Performance is a subscription-based online portal that provides first responders with a detailed view of the performance of their communication network and the devices that rely on it.

Verizon is further developing innovative solutions and technologies based on feedback from first responders through its Frontline Innovation Program.

Verizon shared some examples of these innovations during the webinar, such as a high-tech police cruiser with 5G capabilities, robotic dogs that detect hazardous materials, mobile-connected electric bikes for remote areas, and a more compact rapid response connectivity unit.

Former First Responders Build Response Team

Verizon Frontline has a Crisis Response Team, primarily composed of former first responders and military personnel. The team is responsible for deploying the necessary equipment during crises. It provides devices and emergency support by setting up portable cell sites, Wi-Fi hotspots, and charging stations.

In 2022, this team worked with almost 750 public safety agencies across all states, and it has responded to over 700 situations.

Depending on the situation, different types and sizes of equipment are deployed. The assets range from portable units that can fit inside a vehicle to mobile cell sites that require significant setup. Verizon Frontline has placed these assets throughout the country to be readily available wherever and whenever needed.

“Just recently, there was a massive string of very strong tornadoes that went through northern Texas to Louisiana and up to Ohio. We’ve actively deployed devices and solutions to those areas,” said Cory Davis, assistant vice president of public safety at Verizon Frontline. “We have many sites on backup generators. We think about the backhaul and the fiber, ensuring we have diverse routes for mission-critical communications. This is a core competency not only of Verizon Frontline but Verizon as a whole.”

Verizon Frontline employs various practices to ensure the safety of people and the continuity of services, according to Mary Donny, senior manager of the Global Event Management Center, which coordinates responses to incidents and events worldwide. The center provides threat monitoring and daily reports, summarizing incidents from the last 24 hours and potential ones. This came into being as the U.S. government sought help from the private sector to monitor hazards and early warnings about wildfires and extreme weather conditions so that organizations could prepare in advance.

The center also performs risk assessments by evaluating the network infrastructure in different areas, the people involved, and their readiness to tackle high-profile events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics. Additionally, it publishes a crisis management awareness report to alert those whom significant unplanned events might impact. There are eight crisis management teams worldwide, with four based in the U.S.

Bottom Line: Emergency Response Networks

Donny said Verizon remains committed to leveraging feedback from the community and first responders to continue refining its strategy. Having a robust 5G network, skilled personnel, ongoing innovation, and strategically placed assets ensures that Verizon Frontline can provide reliable communications in emergency situations now and in the future.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.