The 2017 Comms Connect was held in Sydney for the fourth time on 7 – 8 June 2017 at Sydney Olympic Park. The event saw an enthusiastic turnout despite the ever-present rain: over 40 expert speakers, more than 50 exhibitors and 500+ professionals. Even Prince Harry popped along; well, next door anyway!
One network to rule them all?
Inside, the activities and discussions highlighted that there are two distinct streams in the public safety industry when we talk about technology application in the Critical Communications environment. These are broadly defined as:
- Communications and Technology
- Application of Technology
Much ongoing discussion and debate is underway regarding Australia’s adoption of a Public Safety Mobile Broadband capability to meet the long-term needs of Australia’s public safety agencies. A number of international jurisdictions already have their own initiatives of varying degrees of maturity and everyone agrees this is of strategic importance.
Of great interest to the public safety industry is the progress that FirstNet in the United States have made. They are now on the cusp of rolling out a high-speed network for the millions of public safety users in all 56 states and U.S. territories. This is a fantastic feat in itself, but the opportunities this presents is where it gets interesting!
There was much interest from event attendees with regards to what can be done today and how to leverage existing technology to meet challenging critical objectives. With the speed of technology advancement around the world, there is much expectation around having everything you need at your fingertips.
While a single, super network is something that all stakeholders agree we should be working towards in the public safety arena, that does not mean we should all be sitting on our laurels waiting for that day to come. There are plenty of improvements that can be made to enhance the way we as an industry work with technology that exists today.
Lessons from other organisations
The complexity and sheer number of solutions and initiatives available to organisations today is exciting, but overwhelming. Making sense of these options and putting a practical, long-term plan in place is no mean feat.
A number of organisations presented the immense value they are seeing from the investment of time and effort into solving specific problems. This includes areas such as:
- Implementation of site-specific communications network to deliver fit-for-purpose mission-critical communications – Bring Your Own network. This is being used to supplement communications when fighting fires in remote parts of the country.
- Leveraging mobile video capture and storage techniques, such as that being used by police with body-worn cameras and ambulance services with providing real-time situational awareness images.
- Real-time infrared and image streaming and analysis being used in both bushfire and targeted building to provide context and real-time information to all parties.
- Establishment of vehicle, personal and temporary networks to support emergency response, supporting ambulance response and providing paramedics with robust and simplified information tools.
These organisations are the forefront of innovation. Not only are they willing to invest in moving capabilities forward; more importantly, they are not afraid to try new things and learn from experience.
Presentations by Trapeze Group
I was given the opportunity to present on lessons learned in the application of mobile technology supporting the delivery of connected health services. Here’s a quick summary of what we spoke about:
In-Vehicle Communications Technology in the Health Context
NSW Ambulance uses technology and communication to support ‘the connected clinician’ – this means giving their staff all the tools and information they need to properly do their jobs.
To do this, you need the right building blocks:
Once the technology is in place, you need to get people to want to use it. This means testing the technology, validating it and gaining consensus from the user community. You need to test the toys, and use this to develop the tools of the trade.
View the full presentation here.
Tempting as it may be to stick to what you know, there’s no denying that technology has advanced hugely and opened up many new possibilities for critical communications and the application of the evolving technology landscape in the public safety arena. More and more organisations are embracing change to deliver services more efficiently and effectively, and their communities are reaping the benefit – when will you take the leap?