SANTA CLARA, CALIF.—Public-safety personnel likely will benefit from Internet of Life-Saving Things (IoLST) devices designed specifically for first-responder use, but establishing ways to leverage or adapt existing commercial IoT capabilities should be a priority in the near term, according to FirstNet senior advisor Bill Schrier.

While IoT devices designed for healthcare, smart homes, smart buildings, smart communities, smart grid and smart vehicles typically are created to provide conveniences to end users, the information gathered by these commercial IoT solutions often could prove very helpful to first responders during emergencies, Schrier said.

“What do we need? Do we need more innovation? Do we need more bright ideas? Do we need more invention?” Schrier said Monday during the opening keynote of IWCE’s IoT Saving Lives, which was conducted in conjunction with IoT World 2018. “I’m convinced that’s going to occur anyway.

“I think what we really need is [to take] the bright ideas of the industry, of IoT … and adapt that for public-safety use.”

On the video front, police body-worn cameras and government-owned fixed surveillance cameras have received considerable media attention and public funding during the past several years. But the most pervasive video assets—from residential video doorbells to enterprise surveillance cameras—are privately owned, Schrier said. Ensuring that public safety can access these private video feeds in a timely manner could greatly improve the success rates of incident responses, he said.

“That video doorbell, for example, can capture an image of a package thief … [while] the crime is in progress,” Schrier said.

On a personal level, consumers today have unprecedented access to information about their health, thanks to wearable fitness devices and in-home monitoring solutions. But there currently is not a clear method for quickly sharing such important data to emergency-medical professionals in a crisis.

“They should also be connected to first responders, so when an EMT comes to your house because you’ve had a heart attack or an insulin seizure, the medic is actually able to see that sort of information,” Schrier said.

Similarly, information gleaned from sensors used to monitor conditions and efficiencies in a smart building, enterprise or factory could be especially helpful to first responders. As an example, Schrier noted that some fatalities in the 2013 fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas, could have been avoided if first responders fully understood the situation at the time.

 “Firefighters were actually racing to the scene of a fire at the fertilizer plant when it exploded,” he said. “If these plants can be automated with the industrial Internet of Things, it should keep them safer, so these disasters don’t occur.

“But it also should make more information and data available, which can be sent to first responders, about the type of hazardous materials they can expect to encounter, what part of the plant has gone up [in flames], and what parts are nearby that might explode that they’ll want concentrate on in their fire suppression.”

Effective machine-to-machine communications also could ease public safety’s burden on the roadways. Schrier cited the example of a multiple-vehicle pileup in Michigan.

“It was icy,” he said. “As more and more cars came over the hill, they kept piling up. Why couldn’t OnStar in one car talk to the other cars and say, ‘There’s a pileup over the top of the next hill, so slow down now,’ as well as alerting first responders?”

Schrier acknowledged that privacy and security concerns will need to be addressed before private IoT data is shared with public safety in many of these scenarios. In addition, public safety needs to better position itself—Schrier suggested establishing real-time analytics centers—to handle a potential tsunami of multimedia data from various IoT devices.

“All of this data will have to be processed and analyzed somehow,” he said, noting that FirstNet is designed to provide a reliable, secure platform to deliver such potentially sensitive information.