As we move closer to launching 5G, take a look at why the next generation of mobile technology will be a critical element powering new innovations to save lives on Australian beaches.

The family trip to the beach is an iconic tradition for many Australians – especially those who are lucky enough to live close (or close enough) to our famous coastlines. Beach safety is imprinted on many of us as children, the importance of respecting the ocean and following the directions of lifeguards.

However, there is always a level of risk when you choose to swim at the beach – and advanced technologies can play an important role in helping us manage this risk, to help keep as many people as safe as possible.

This week, we showed how the Telstra mobile network can be used to operate drones with object recognition capability that seeks to locate a missing person, using a familiar scenario – a missing teenager, swimming out of their depth and having difficulty returning to shore alone.

We are already seeing examples of drones being used by lifeguards to assist in rescue situations; our demonstration took this a significant step further by using AI-equipped drones that use video analytics to recognise people and objects automatically rather than this being done manually by a lifeguard.

Network connectivity is also the foundation for assisting drones to cooperate safely in the same airspace as rescue helicopters – a key advancement and crucial to show the roles drones play within an end-to-end rescue situation.

For this demonstration, 4G was used to create point to point video links from the drones back to the viewing area on the beach. With the advanced capability and scale offered by the incoming 5G technology, it will be possible for surf life saving organisations to execute these kinds of rescues at a much larger scale along the popular coastlines of Australia.

5G life-saving drone

4G makes it possible – and 5G will make it practical.

5G will deliver faster speeds and better experiences to mobile broadband and smartphone customers, but it will also be essential to underpin the expected increase in IoT connected devices over the next decade.

It will bring greater bandwidth, but also greater security and reliability with features designed for communications and control.

In the 5G-enabled future Telstra will be able to provide connectivity between all sorts of emergency and civilian vehicles whether they be on ground, sea or in the air. Our compute and analytics capability will be able to filter irrelevant information to deliver actionable intelligence to the people who manage life-saving incident responses.

We will also be able to provide communications networks to enable command and control of autonomous vehicles so that the low altitude airspace can be more safely managed for drones and the emerging aerial people carriers.

Drones are an important emerging technology, and will have many applications and impacts on our customers’ businesses and personal lives. In the CTO, our drones team are assessing how we can make Telstra’s networks and systems ready to assist and enable our customers to take advantage of this technology.

Read more about Telstra’s 5G leadership here.