MWC 2019: Barcelona's 5G ambulances

The Catalonian government has partnered with Juniper and Vodafone to fit its ambulances with 5G connectivity.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The government of Catalonia is showing off its 5G ambulance at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona, saying the emergency vehicles have become moving network nodes and base stations.

According to the government, it is working through its Ministry for Digital Policy and Public Administration to develop and deploy 5G as a priority "in order to make Catalonia a benchmark digital nation worldwide".

"Catalonia is positioned at a great starting point to become a magnet for attracting the technological deployment of services and a new industry associated with the 5G network," the government said.

The 5G-connected ambulance is one initiative it is taking to show how new mobile networks will affect important areas such as healthcare.

"Connected ambulances are vehicles equipped with multi-technology and advanced communication services," it said.

The vehicles are using a 5G network with dedicated communication, which sees speeds of up to 5Gbps; provides lower latency for communications and sending data; and enables network slicing for urgent needs.

"A slice or dedicated network [can] be used just for medical emergencies and care in order to guarantee the service and the capacity to communicate, regardless of the number of users in the same communications cell," it explained.

"Through radio slicing, the allocation of resources among the different services offered can be controlled flexibly."

The kitted-out ambulances serve Medical Emergencies System (MES) -- the Catalonian government's public enterprise that responds to health emergencies.

The connectivity is already being used to receive specialised remote real-time HD video support while carrying a patient, and ambulances will soon also gain vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2i) capabilities in order to ensure they have access to clearer roads on the way to the hospital.

Massive Internet of Things (IoT) functions can also be enabled, including "communication with multiple sensors, actuators, and smart devices in the region, in the surroundings, and in the ambulance", the government said.

The Catalonian government worked with Vodafone Business, Juniper Networks, emergency equipment provider Corpuls, Spanish satellite provider Hispasat, non-profit tech research and innovation centre i2cat, and IT services management company Informática El Corte Inglés on the project.

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