From niche incompatible technologies to standard cloud-enabled solutions
Emergency communications have been traditionally associated to niche commercial solutions with slow progress concerning interoperability and evolution of services. Traditionally, emergency calling and public safety systems have been focused on providing the security and reliability levels required in mission critical communications, which were not available in commercial networks and services.
On the contrary, Internet-based communications have considerably evolved thanks to its open philosophy, which fosters the introduction of new players and the emergence of all kinds of communications means. Besides the possibility to use media-enriched individual and group mobile communications, the emergence of social networks or the Internet of Things introduces considerable benefits to the management of emergencies.
The existing gap between emergency and commercial communications has resulted in the adoption of ad-hoc non-standardized commercial solutions, where different emergency professionals have decided to use / integrate different Internet-based applications in the support of emergency handling.
The current trends towards homogenization and standardization of emergency communications over general-purpose mobile broadband technologies are considered a milestone for the next generation emergency communications framework. Not only the emergency communications stakeholders have finally positioned in favor of IP-based communications, but also SIP/IMS protocols have been selected as the underlying communications signaling suite in standardization works.
The current evolution of Internet-based services is towards the cloudification of the software instances, leading to a more efficient and scalable use of the hardware resources. Although the emergency community has started to follow this migration path, there is still much work to reach a unified interoperable cloud-based emergency management framework.
Besides, the next evolution of networks involves softwarization of network functions, including the use of Software Defined Networks (SDN) for enhanced routing of data flows and the use of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) for creating on-the-fly cloud-enabled network elements. These technology trends, also being considered in the definition of future 5G networks, will enable the inclusion of mission critical features in mobile broadband networks and will help in closing the gap between emergency and commercial communications.
Based on the foreseen technology trends, the nemergent initiative aims at fostering the creation of a common playground where emergency professionals and involved providers are able to interact and interoperate in order to avoid the emergence of divergent non-compatible solutions.