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Introducing Fog Cutter: Using 5G to support our first responders

Earlier this summer, the City of Fredericton, together with its Fredericton Innovation Partnership stakeholders, selected Fog Cutter as the winning team of the BOOST Innovation Camp. The week-long 5G Innovation Camp involved 50 participants within ten diverse teams, who were tasked to respond to the ask of: developing innovative solutions and prototypes in response to the City of Fredericton’s smart city challenges.

The 2021 winning team, Fog Cutter, was awarded a curated mentorship package, as well as a Fredericton Chamber of Commerce one year membership, and each team member received a 5G-enabled iPhone 12 sponsored by Rogers. Joshua Roberts, Alexander LeBlanc, Samridhi Pargal, Joey Melo and Scott Bateman are all members of Fog Cutter, and we wanted to learn more about them, their idea and how 5G technology helps make it all happen. We sat down with Scott Bateman to find out more about his team’s winning idea.

Congratulations on your big win! What can you tell us about Fog Cutter?

Thank you! Well, Fog Cutter is a prototype for a new system that aids first responders in times of emergency. Fog Cutter connects first responders (including police, fire department, and ambulance services) through a command centre to reduce confusion at the scene of an emergency. Enabled by 5G technology and IoT sensors, it allows all first responders to have the information necessary for their job.

In order for Fog Cutter to work, all first responders would need to have IoT sensors as part of their uniform. These sensors will then track the individual’s location, overall status and well-being. Then, all of this data is sent directly back to a centralized command system. This will allow the command centre to know exactly what is happening on the ground with all first responders at any given time. These sensors can also be put on vehicles, installed at important locations and venues, and can even be secured on drones to act as eyes in the air!

With all of this information being collected, you need a highly visual and intuitive method to display the aggregate data in the command centre. Our proof of concept, developed with Microsoft HoloLens and Kognativ Spark, allows the information to travel at real-time speeds and arrive with 3D formatting. This feeds the command centre organized, live data and provides first responders with constant updates.

What was the driving force behind the development of Fog Cutter?

Following the tragic mass shooting that took place in Nova Scotia last year, I learned there is often a high level of confusion among emergency services, as they try to figure out what is happening and how best to respond. Driven by stories of our frontline workers, I knew there had to be a better way to cut the fog and improve information sharing for emergency responders on the scene.

Do you see Fog Cutter revolutionizing emergency response systems in times of crisis?

Yes, for sure. After speaking with many emergency response experts, I came to learn that a lot of the information collected during an emergency is siloed and not easy to access quickly. Fog Cutter will be a new way for all these different emergency response teams to seamlessly share information, all mediated through a command centre. The information collected through the IoT sensors allows the command centre to respond quickly with next steps and informed decisions.

The Fog Cutter proof of concept is only possible because of advancements in wireless technology – what excites you the most about 5G technology?

5G enables a high standard of network reliability and increased bandwidth capacity – this supports the efficacy of our Fog Cutter centralized command centre. With 5G, the streaming data collected by hundreds or possibly thousands of IoT sensors can be displayed and used in real-time responses to emergencies. The Boost Innovation Camp will return in Spring of 2022 to further explore benefits of 5G technology, thanks to the innovation partnership (since 2017) between Rogers and the City of Fredericton.  With Rogers’ launch of the first 5G network in Atlantic Canada in September 2020, the Boost Innovation Camp and its competing teams are paving the way to fulfillment of Fredericton’s smart city aspirations.