To promote public and environmental safety while providing the Riga Municipal Police with the newest technologies, Riga, together with the municipality of Turin and the support of telecommunications companies, is participating in the European Union pilot project "5G4LIVES". The selected project's pilot territories are popular recreational areas in Riga — Vecāķi and Ķīšezers beaches, where the newest 5G technologies will be installed and automated drone flights will be introduced in the work of the municipal police.
"Smart technologies and 5G connectivity are a strategically important part of Riga's long-term development plan. 5G can be used in mobility, healthcare, education, arts, science and security. Nowadays, connectivity is as important as electricity was a century ago, and Riga is working on narrowing the digital gap so that all residents can benefit from this development. Security is one of Riga's priorities, therefore we particularly appreciate that the 5G project directly expands the operational capabilities of the Riga Municipal Police," says Linda Ozola, Deputy Chairperson of the Riga City Council, while launching the project.
The project's leading coordinator is Riga Municipality Agency "Riga Digital Agency". According to the Agency's Director, Arnis Gulbis, the initial and most responsible work is to develop the necessary documents and build the technologies: "Currently, the current legislation in Latvia only allows the use of drones that are physically controlled by pilots. Therefore, we have started to work thoroughly to develop the necessary documents, to initiate changes in legislation and to test the technologies. This is essential to ensure that the project is as safe as possible for both the public and civil aviation. Turin, with its extensive experience in the use of drones, is an excellent model and cooperation partner from which we can learn. In cooperation with telecommunications companies, 5G technologies will be installed at the pilot project sites to ensure the smooth operation of the drones, and the drones themselves will be tested in urban environments in about 1.5-2 years."
The implementation of 5G technologies in Riga will be ensured by the project's cooperation partners SIA "Latvijas Mobilais Telefons" and the state joint stock company "Elektroniskie sakari". Their power supply will be based on alternative hydrogen fuel cells, thus providing sustainable climate solutions.
Riga Municipal Police is already using drones for operational work, for example, to control public transport lanes, to detect building roofs not cleared of snow, or to search for people, but there are drawbacks to drone operation — a police officer must be assigned to control drones and their battery power is not suitable for long and prolonged flights. Andrejs Aronovs, Deputy Chief of Riga Municipal Police, explains: "We have been using drones in policing for several years now to record various offences and it is no secret that they need a pilot to be operated, so the project opens up more opportunities for us. In particular, drones that can operate automatically for long periods of time to record offences and monitor order in wider territories, such as Riga's water bodies."
Within the project, four drones for automated flights with thermal and infrared cameras will be purchased for the Riga Municipal Police, providing two drones in each project territory. They will be used, by designing specific routes, for saving people's lives at swimming sites, controlling people on ice, controlling poaching and boat traffic, monitoring animals, monitoring public order, detecting environmental pollution and for other municipal police functions. The introduction of automated drones will increase the efficiency of municipal police work and public safety, as their control will relieve the workload of police pilots and information from the drones will be transmitted via smart solutions.
The main cooperation partner of the Riga Municipal Police is the Turin Municipal Police (Italy). Turin is one of the European leaders in the active use of drones for public safety, for example in large parks, public events and concerts, and the city's municipal police have extensive experience in using this technology in a wide range of areas. Riga Municipal Police has already successfully cooperated with experts from Turin by introducing technologies and drones in police work in Latvia. Riga has chosen public swimming sites as the project's pilot territory, while Turin will implement the project in mountainous areas.
In developing technologies and smart solutions, it is also important to get feedback from technology experts, which is one of the reasons why the open innovation movement "VEFRESH" is one of the project's partners. Its Executive Director Viesturs Celmiņš points out: "The public and private partnership within the project in Riga will take environmental monitoring to a whole new level. An innovative, accurate, digitalised service that provides more real-time data on the safety of our water sites - in all seasons - will be developed and tested on a 5G mobile network framework. This type of service will be unique at both city and national level."
Riga City Council is implementing the project together with the City of Turin, the Polytechnic University of Turin, the telecommunications companies "Latvijas Mobilais telefons", "Elektroniskie Sakari" and "Windtre" (Italy) and the open innovation movement "Vefresh".
The project launch seminar took place at Riga City Hall on 29 and 30 January, where project participants and experts discussed the progress of the project, issues related to optimal emergency management by the municipal police and data-driven predictions through automated risk zone assessment.
The total duration of the project is 3 years. The project "5G system development for protecting lives and public health in Riga — 5G4LIVES" is co-funded by the Connecting Europe Facility Digital programme of the European Union. The project will last for 3 years and the total cost of the project in Riga and Turin is expected to reach EUR 3,826,000. The cost of the project for Riga City Council will reach EUR 922,000. Of the total cost, 691,5 thousand is financed by the European Union, and 230,5 thousand by the Riga City Council.
Information prepared by: Tatjana Smirnova, Project Coordinator at External Communication Division of Riga City Council, phone: +371 26846472, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CEF-DIG-2022-5GSMARTCOM I Grant Agreement No. 101133716