Edge Event SD-WAN

SD-WAN at the Edge for Public Safety: See the Demo at Mobile World Congress

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, you will be able to experience a demo that has amazing potential for first responders. The VMware booth in Hall 3, Stand 3M11 will feature a Tesla car equipped with a small, rugged SD-WAN device, paired with Jenoptik software, for applications such as automatic license plate recognition. You will see how SD-WAN can enable secure mobile communications and real-time edge computing across a fleet of vehicles to create an office on wheels.

Check out our Mobile World Congress blog to learn more about this demo and details about VMware SD-WAN and VMware SASE at MWC.

Surrey and Sussex Police modernized with VMware SD-WAN

The driving force behind this demo is a very innovative VMware customer: The combined police forces of Surrey and Sussex counties in the UK. Surrey and Sussex Police serve more than 2 million people in two of the UK’s most densely populated counties, with more than 8,300 officers and staff. The forces needed a future-proof solution for their cloud-first strategy to reduce operational cost and focus on a service-first approach. Surrey and Sussex Police want to ensure their operational officers have the tools to provide their services to the public.  

Surrey and Sussex Police became the first UK police force to deploy SD-WAN ahead of schedule and below budget, reducing their ongoing operational costs by 50%. They replaced legacy point-to-point networks and hardware with VMware SD-WAN. This enables services to be more efficient, adding reliability, reducing cost and having a single plane of glass to manage the network with cloud service providers. Other benefits included reducing their carbon footprint and noise pollution.  

Read the VMware customer story For Surrey and Sussex Police, Connectivity Is a Public Service

“I had this idea …”

Once Surrey and Sussex police saw the benefits of software-defined connectivity in action, they were ready to take it a step further. Dr. Steve Conn, Technical Project Manager for the combined police forces, was having a cup of tea one day when an idea came to him. “Why don’t we drop an Edge device in a police car, connect it to our body-worn video, and stream live video while traveling at speed?” They connected a VMware SD-WAN 510 LTE device, a power inverter, and a SIM card, and were in fact able to stream video from a body-worn camera from a police car driving at speed. That was only the beginning.

SD-WAN connectivity in a miniaturized device has great potential to go from the demo stage to something that government agencies can buy off-the-shelf for first responders. “We would like to get to the point where you can reduce the hardware and software footprints enough that a device will fit in any conveyance, from a police car to an ambulance and other blue-light services, turning that vehicle into a ruggedized office on wheels,” said Dr. Conn. “My vision is to have a virtualized car to create a software-based virtual version of functions including computing, storage, networking, servers, or applications that behave just like their physical functions—but in a device—to create this office on wheels.”

The potential of mobile, rugged technology is unlimited

Modern police vehicles are packed with technology, including cameras, radios, automatic license plate readers, and laptops or tablets. While the technology has contributed to safety, flexibility and awareness, “We keep shoehorning more equipment into smaller spaces,” said Dr. Conn. “For example, the devices draw so much power that the vehicle needs a bigger battery.” The extra weight not only takes up space but increases fuel consumption, wears tires down faster, and contributes to overall vehicle wear and tear.

Even with all that equipment, police forces are still limited in the kinds of operational tasks they can do in the field. They still need to return to the office to upload footage from body-worn video cameras. When a patrol area does not have good cellular coverage, officers may have to drive around to find a signal to connect. When officers are faced with an emergency, they have to rely on a voice call to headquarters to describe the problem and request resources or backup, when a live video stream could convey so much more information.

“The goal is to provide unified communications and virtualized service, including applications, voice, video and data, to enable officers to perform any operational task they need to accomplish throughout the day,” said Dr. Conn. With more compute power at the edge and better connectivity through SD-WAN, any first-responder vehicle can become a command-and-control vehicle. For example, when a police cruiser can send live video of an emergency situation or a crowd, headquarters can put that video on a big screen for more detail and a better understanding of what additional resources are needed at the scene. A secure SD-WAN mobile edge with a Wi-Fi hotspot would enable police to access secure systems from the field, complete necessary duties, and share information from their vehicles without having to return to an office.

“We are on the leading edge of SD-WAN, really pushing it to see what the technology can do,” said Dr. Conn. “We’re very excited to see what comes next, especially the VMware SD-WAN Client. When you put that client software on a laptop, it really enhances your overall investment in SD-WAN.”

Dr Conn said that having the mobile edge as a “office on wheels” will change the way we do policing. “I look forward to continue to work with VMware to enable the vision of off-the-shelf solutions that benefit blue light customers and beyond.”


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