Singapore kits firefighters with AR smart glasses powered by AI, 5G

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore is working on a new 5G project that will enable SCDF frontliners to enhance operational readiness through automating equipment inspection process and facilitating remote assistance using smart glasses, AI and AR technologies.

Being done in partnership with HTX (Home Team Science and Technology Agency), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), StarHub and IBM.

The project will be test-bedded in SCDF’s Smart Fire Station — the Punggol Fire Station — on its latest-generation fire emergency vehicles. 

Also, the initiative will feature AI-powered visual inspection, voice-activated commands, step-by-step on-screen procedures and dynamic content display on 5G-connected smart glasses. This will save time needed for firefighters to inspect their equipment and enhance the monitoring of equipment inventory.

Data from the inspections will flow into a centralised dashboard to capture defects and provide status updates of equipment in real-time. This will raise SCDF’s operational readiness to respond to emergencies.

In addition, the ultra-low latency and high bandwidth that standalone 5G empower SCDF to conduct AR remote assistance.

During a post-fire investigation, the technology allows commanders on the ground to have live access to fire investigation specialists through real-time augmented annotations video interactions to assist in thorough scene processing and analysis in a timely manner.

The next phase of this two-year project will see full integration of solutions with backend services and ongoing field testing. IMDA and IBM will support SCDF in integrating data governance and cybersecurity to the operations.

This project is supported by IMDA’s 5G Innovation Programme, which helps enterprise adopt and commercialise 5G technologies. As the tech arm of the Home Team, HTX offers its technical capabilities and guidance for this project to ensure that it meets SCDF’s operational needs. 

IBM delivers the end-to-end solutions leveraging AI technology, automation and AR. StarHub provides secured 5G connectivity and hardware to ensure optimal performance of these solutions, with network technical expertise offered at every stage of the project.

“As one of the first-in-the-world to achieve nationwide 5G standalone (SA) coverage and as the first country to extend public 5G SA coverage to sea for maritime operations, IMDA will continue to build a robust future-ready digital infrastructure that meets both current and future demands,” said Ong Chen Hui, assistant chief executive of IMDA. 

Ling Young Ern, deputy commissioner for Future Technology and Public Safety at SCDF, said the 5G-enabled fire engine makes secure, real-time transmission of high-quality videos and images achievable. 

“Working closely with IMDA, HTX, StarHub and IBM is pivotal in pushing the boundaries of data connectivity to enhance our operational readiness,” said Ling.

As a global technology provider, IBM has brought the power of AI-based IBM Maximo Visual Inspection, through 5G-connected AR smart glasses, to automate equipment inspection and ensure frontliners’ equipment readiness. 

Equipment tracking and maintenance data aggregated into real-time single dashboard will also equip SCDF firefighters with data-driven operations and decision making, which is crucial for a safe and successful operations. 

“IBM is committed to support Singapore in its Smart Nation efforts and will continue to help organisations and partners explore new possibilities brought by cutting-edge technology like AI to drive process efficiency, augment labour productivity and transform IT automation,” said Ronald Castro, VP of IBM Supply Chain.