Dense Air demos densification for public safety in Dublin

The demonstration provided a look at how real-time monitoring could improve operational efficiency and safety for first responders. (Dense Air)

Dense Air, a neutral-host small cell provider, in partnership with the Dublin Fire Brigade demoed how network densification and 5G could be used to assist cities’ emergency response teams.  

London-based Dense Air, part of the Airspan Group, deploys neutral-host small cells in dedicated licensed spectrum, which it says helps mobile operators extend and enhance 4G and 5G coverage by providing what the company refers to as ‘radio network as a service.’

During this week’s demo of a staged river rescue in Ireland, first responders from the Dublin Fire Brigade were fitted with cameras that connected to the unit’s Command Support Unit vehicle via a private 5G-ready test network, which was deployed in Dublin Docklands as part of a larger smart city initiative. 

Dense Air’s neutral-host small cell was deployed on the command vehicle, bringing the signal closer to the end user, and relaying it back to the Dublin Docklands network. Public safety leaders could view real-time aerial coverage captured by connected drones, as well as the first responder video stream.

RELATED: Verizon installs 5G in Denver in special ‘smart poles’

In Ireland, Dense Air’s small cells operate on 3.4-3.8 GHz spectrum it was awarded in 2017. 

“We are very pleased to be working with Dublin Fire Brigade to explore how 4G and 5G networks can become an important part of coordinating emergency incidents," said Dense Air CEO Paul Senior in a statement. “We hope our trial with Dublin Fire Brigade will become the blueprint of how other emergency services will operate in the future and feel honoured that our networks will be utilised for such important purposes."

The demo was part of the Harvard TECH Innovators Forum hosted by the Dublin City Council (DCC), and provided a look at how real-time monitoring could improve operational efficiency and safety for first responders. 

"The safety of our firefighters is of paramount importance during emergencies,” said Greg O'Dwyer Assistant Chief Fire Officer of the Dublin Fire Brigade in a statement. “Being able to leverage new advances in technology will not only help save lives but will also increase our effectiveness as a team to manage the situation."

Dense Air and DDC first announced their collaboration in early 2018. It includes 5G research and the trial network in Dublin’s Docklands as part of the city’s ‘Smart Docklands’ initiative. The partnership’s aim is to create a framework for large-scale infrastructure deployment for enhanced LTE and future 5G connectivity. 

Mobile operators around the world have been working to densify their networks as they prepare for and launch 5G services, requiring additional sites for coverage and capacity. However, deploying new infrastructure at scale has presented challenges, including in the U.S., where operators have sometimes faced delays from local authorities and pushback from the public.

RELATED: Operators face local opposition to 5G small cell deployments

Working with other government departments and agencies in Ireland, as well as Dublin building owners, Dense Air and DCC focused on developing best practices for an efficient and affordable process to deploy small cells on city-owned street assets like lamp posts and traffic lights, with neutral-host infrastructure that allows multiple mobile operators and private networks to use the assets at the same time.  

This summer, Dense Air and DDC’s Dublin Docklands 5G Neutral Host Deployment Model project won the 2019 Small Cell Forum Award for Social Impact – ‘Promoting Small Cells for Social/Economic/Environmental Development.’

Dense Air also controls spectrum and has offices in Belgium, Portugal, New Zealand and Australia, where it aims to launch neutral-host small cell deployments, which the company has stressed are meant to complement services provided by mobile operators.  

Last month, the company signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Municipal Council of Cascais in Portugal for a 5G smart city proof-of-concept network. The project plans to test use-cases like autonomous vehicles, industrial IoT, and immersive education.

Also in September, Dense Air announced a partnership with Spark to launch initial fixed wireless 5G service in New Zealand, using 2.6 GHz spectrum. Through the deal, Spark is testing Dense Air’s network services for both 4G LTE and 5G densification.