A role for telcos in public safety

The pandemic, environmental concerns and increasing incidence of natural disasters and social unrest are serving to focus public attention on what can be done to preserve health and ensure the safety of people and property going forward. STL Partners supports the position that telecoms companies are strongly placed to help address these concerns. The vision is that telcos can connect large numbers and types of sensors to monitor different events in real-time. Telcos can harness the data collected by these sensors, cameras and other monitors, combine it with data already captured by mobile networks (e.g. subscriber location) and thereby alert organisations and individuals to imminent threats to their health and safety.

Public safety solutions now

Telecommunications providers are already involved in solutions of this kind:

  • KT Corp. is involved in Air Map Korea, which collects data from public telephone booths, telecom poles, and base stations nationwide to provide air pollution information through an app, as well as other service channels such as GiGA Genie and Olleh TV.
  • LG Uplus offers a consumer proposition (in partnership with Weather I) leveraging a small device to measure fine dust, temperature, and humidity indoors in order to provide the user with ventilation advice.
  • BT will integrate Everimpact’s climate monitoring system into next generation Street Hub units (i.e. telephone box replacements) in order to combine Everimpact’s satellite data and AI technology with air quality and CO2 data (collected via BT sensors) to provide local councils with the ability to track emissions.
  • IQ FireWatch, which uses AI and connected cameras to detect fires both visually and through heat disturbances, is being deployed in the Napa Valley by Illuminations Technologies – a relative of a large private telecommunications infrastructure provider.
  • ShakeAlert is working with Google and others (public and private mass alert system operators and cellular carriers) to send earthquake alerts to the Android operating system in smartphones in California (Google has also begun using accelerometers in Android phones to detect tremors).
  • The South Korean government has used a combination of electronic transaction data, mobile phone location logs, and surveillance camera footage to track (and publish) the movements of people who tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Magenta Telecom (Austria) is trialling the use of drones for search and rescue missions in Vienna, where 200 people a year fall into the Danube River.

Our report, How telcos can make the world a safer place, provides further detail on these solutions, and more. It considers opportunities for telcos to use data from connected devices in conjunction with data from its networks to tackle health and safety issues. It looks at who telcos are partnering with in trials as well as actual solutions and highlights prospective business models and the potential revenue streams that could result. In theory, at least, individuals, organisations, insurers and governments should be prepared to pay for systems and solutions that help protect them against serious threats to health and safety, such as infectious diseases, pollution and wildfires. In practice, it can be more difficult to sell systems that prevent an often-nebulous negative impact, rather than generate a clear positive benefit.

For more insights on the consumer opportunity, go to Recharging consumer revenues.