Citymesh, SkeyDrone, Cegeka, Nokia, IDLabTE create nationwide 5G emergency drone network

Belgian’s telco operator Citymesh is introducing a network of 70 safety drones built to support the company’s emergency services in a programme called SENSE.

“In a world’s first, police stations and fire stations across Belgium will have a Drones-in-a-Box (DiaB) solution at their disposal,” says a company press release. “When emergency services receive a call, depending on the type of call, the Safety Drone will take off to gather critical information in the first 15 minutes. Thanks to 4K high definition & thermal images enriched with AI, the emergency services get a lot more info on the situation and can thus make better and faster decisions… Crucial minutes for a human life.

“Every year, more than two million urgent calls reach our emergency centres. Based on that information, they have to decide what actions the police or fire brigade can take. A crucial decision that determines the success and speed of the intervention. Unfortunately, they often have to make that decision based on incomplete information. After pilot projects from 2018 in Kortrijk (Fluvia), Brussels Airport Company ( BAC) and Port of Antwerp Bruges, we completed the first full integration in Genk in the summer of 2022.”

“Now, four years later, Citymesh is introducing SENSE. By scaling up the number of Safety Drones to 70, we want to create a drone grid across Belgium as a tool for emergency services. Something that does not yet exist anywhere else in the world, crazy right? We are the first Belgium to go from a smart city to a smart country. In each of the 35 emergency zones, two Drones-in-a-Box (DiaB) will be available. We believe very hard in this story at Citymesh, this can really save lives, ” said Hans Similon, General Manager – Citymesh Safety Drones.

According to the press release: “Citymesh’s Safety Drones should help emergency services work even more efficiently. Today, they often do not know what awaits them the moment they turn out. In that initial chaos, they lose precious time. Once emergency services receive a call, a Safety Drone can autonomously take off and fly to the scene of the disaster to take accurate images. Those images are sent over Citymesh’s 5G network to the emergency centre and emergency workers. On top of that, they are enriched using AI. This allows the drones to automatically detect smoke plumes, but also, for example, fire areas and people.

“As a result, emergency workers get a better view of what is happening where and are thus faster and more prepared at the scene. This information not only saves lives and environments (such as forests and residential areas). SENSE also increases efficiency, as police and fire brigades can send out their units in a more targeted way.

“From various Remote Operations Centres, pilots are available 24/7 to conduct the flights and intervene so that emergency services get the right images at the right time. The safety of the flights is ensured by a UTM platform where everything is logged and coordinated. If you want to know more about how everything works, feel free to give us a call.

For the implementation of this project, Citymesh is assisted by SkeyDrone, Cegeka and IDLabTE.

The system is built on a Nokia Drone Networks platform with 70 Drone-in-a-Box (DiaB) units. 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.
World’s first: Belgian Citymesh helps save lives with drone shield


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