5G technology helps Arizona first responders prepare for calls

Phoenix (3TV/CBS 5) — The latest 5G technology is improving the way Arizona police and fire departments respond to calls. Officials from Verizon and Verizon Frontline demonstrated the latest technology Tuesday night at the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix.

Firefighters are more prepared than ever when they call out. Verizon has hundreds of trucks and equipment that can be deployed to natural disasters or wherever the need arises. Trucks use satellites to build 5G networks, and service may not exist or be turned off. This could provide first responders a way to quickly communicate and access information.

Maggie Hallbrack is President of Verizon Frontline. Technology has come a long way, even in the past decade, she said. “It’s not just about voice communication anymore. It’s about data and delivering that data to first responders who need it most,” she explained.

She said Verizon has made more than 50 deployments in Arizona over the past two years. “This gives first responders the coverage and capabilities they need to go to work with situational awareness,” Hallbrack said.

Former Phoenix Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner is on the Verizon First Responder Advisory Council. She worked with Verizon to talk about the challenges workers face every day, and Verizon figured out a way to help. “I’m not a tech guy, I just know that when I pick up the phone, I want it to work,” she said. “If we’re driving to answer the phone, that information is in front of us before you have an atlas and drive there.”

The technology is helping firefighters be better prepared, Kalkbrenner said. While driving and answering the phone, they can download information about buildings. Once they arrive, they can get instant imagery from the drone, which can help them decide on a firefighting strategy.

She said it helped protect the crew and safety was her top concern. “It kept me up at night, but now I’m comfortable, so to speak, and we have something that helps us stay up,” Kalkbrenner said.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego also attended the event. She said the technology is important for a big event like the Super Bowl. With so many people coming to the Valley in February, the latest technology will allow even more people to get the fastest coverage. “Everyone who comes to downtown Phoenix expects their cell phone to work,” Mayor Gallego said. “Our first responders need to be able to communicate because, for sure, there’s always going to be something going on.”

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