China boasts world-class mountainous areas with outstanding natural beauty, including the magical floating Zhangjiajie ranges and the rugged Huangshan trails.
The destinations attract millions of visitors, both domestic and international, each year.
Hiking through such terrain, while attractive, can be treacherous.
Mountain rescue technology is constantly improving to protect those who venture into the wilderness and advances in 5G technology mean mountain rescue is now faster and more efficient than ever.
Traditionally, dogs were used to sniff out lost hikers in difficult terrain. The animals can now be equipped with sensors giving off their live location in real time, and, by utilizing 5G networks, faster signaling with lower latency speeds mean their progress can be tracked more reliably.
Thermal imaging videos streamed in real time can also mean casualties are found quicker.
Drones have been useful for this purpose, too, being able to fly over longer distances while maintaining connections to 5G local networks.
Due to developments in batteries and material design, drones can also carry heavier loads, meaning medical supplies and food can be delivered to those in need before rescue personnel arrive.
Once search and rescue teams reach the scene, 5G also makes first aid and more complex urgent medical attention possible immediately. Patches attached to an injured person can remotely monitor their heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels in real time. Respiration rates and oximetry are vital signs to monitor in mountainous areas where high altitudes and extreme conditions are unforgiving for the unprepared.
5G allows all this information to be gathered and streamed to medical teams, either at a mountain rescue base or at medical facilities.
Explaining that 5G is just faster and more reliable, however, is a simplistic way of explaining the sophistication of these next-generation mobile networks. 5G networks can partition different frequencies to allow for more efficient and tailored usage. For example, every user of traditional networks has to share bandwidth. However, the requirements may vary from user to user, with different needs in terms of capacity, latency, and geographical coverage. For instance, a video gamer may require high capacity, while self-driving cars need lower latency, and faster response times.
5G networks take advantage of these different needs by slicing networks into individual custom networks that can be fine-tuned for different purposes. This means a separate mini network can be reserved for emergency communications, where low latency and broad coverage is vital.
By keeping these networks separate, their overall speed, reliability, and security are increased for mountain rescuers.
Rural areas that are popular with tourists often, historically, have poor connectivity issues. However, 5G not only offers support for local communities and businesses, but also ensures areas of beauty are protected. Such infrastructure ensures they are safe places to visit.
In an era where extreme weather is becoming an everyday fact of life, the role of first-response teams and bases that support them are more important than ever.