Nokia’s 5G-connected drone platform selected for nationwide drone network

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Nokia has announced a first-of-its-kind contract with Belgian telecom operator Citymesh to supply its Nokia Drone Networks platform with 70 Drone-in-a-Box (DiaB) units.

This deployment will be capable of blanketing Belgium with a 5G automated drone grid that informs and speeds resource mobilisation in emergency events.

Branded SENSE by Citymesh, the 70 drones are deployed in 35 emergency zones across the country and will gather information in the critical 15-minute period immediately following a call. This ensures that first responder teams are fully apprised of and equipped to respond to each unique situation.

Belgium’s emergency services can receive more than two million calls a year, and typically police and fire brigades are dispatched with incomplete data that can affect the efficiency of their response. Now, with Nokia Drone Networks, pilots will be able to operate 24/7 and dispatch drones from docking stations strategically located across the country.

Equipped with high definition and AI-enhanced thermal imaging, these drones are able to capture real-time aerial footage – such as smoke plumes, fire parameters, and number/location of people – and transfer it to control centres even before emergency teams have had time to leave. These aerial images are essential to identifying a plan of action that can save lives and limit damage to affected assets and natural resources.

Hans Similon, General Manager, Citymesh Safety Drone, said, “SENSE is a great example of how technology can save lives. We’ve been impressed with Nokia as our partner for reliable wireless connectivity and an outstanding turnkey Drone-in-a-Box solution that we can customise to our specific needs. Together, we’re making Belgium safer and proving just how innovative we are as a nation.”

Thomas Eder, Head of Embedded Wireless Solutions, Nokia, added, “Our 5G-connected drone platform is a logical extension of our leadership in building nationwide wireless networks. Nokia Drone Networks is a game-changer for operational efficiency of first responders and data security. Enabled by Nokia MX Industrial Edge (MXIE), it ensures that collected data is stored locally and stays under the full control of authorities.”

Nationwide availability of SENSE follows pilot projects in the Fluvia fire brigade in Kortrijk, Brussels Airport Company, Port of Antwerp-Bruges, and the city of Genk, with the support of the Federal Public Service Economy.

The Nokia Drone Networks solution connects to public and private 4G and 5G networks to enhance situational awareness for first responders and other professionals. It can be operated remotely and complies with the aviation regulatory bodies such as EASA in Europe and FAA in the United States.

The platform is equipped with a dual gimbal camera, docking station, edge data processing, and it is supported by an open API framework that allows integration of third-party applications to expand its capabilities for a wider range of use-cases.