A sharp focus on behalf of commercial mobile network operators on machine-to-machine communications is not only a boon to the utility sector but public safety as well, according to Sam Lucero, senior analyst with ABI Research.

Mobile operators such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility have been ratcheting up their businesses to cater to the connected machine segment as the penetration of voice users begins to surpass 90 percent. They are looking for the next growth wave. In Europe, Orange Business Services unveiled an International M2M Centre designed to develop and supply M2M subscriber identity module cards and connectivity products, and offer pre- and post-sales support.

These operators envision all sorts of connected machines, including cars, appliances, buildings, roads and medical monitors. But the big one that should impact public safety the most is telematics.

"Smart meter reading and telematics are two of the areas seeing the most traction," Lucero said.

Today, GM's OnStar is the dominant telematics provider in the U.S. and includes services such as automatic collision notification, emergency assistance, stolen vehicle location and roadside assistance. But as mobile networks support higher-speed data services and as module prices fall, more competition in both the in-car and the aftermarket car telematics market is giving the public-safety community another tool to assess vehicle crashes before they arrive on scene.

Case in point: earlier this year, Toyota announced a new in-car convenience telematics program for select Toyota and Lexus models similar to GM's OnStar service.

Moreover, public-safety answering points (PSAPs) are working to upgrade to IP in order to create a common interface that can connect to a variety of systems — wireline, cellular or VoIP over cable. The idea would be that intelligent telematics systems would have the capability to send crash and speed information to 911 centers.