Motorola Solutions talks up “mission critical intel” with AI deal, but voice is the killer app
The role of the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) in public safety technologies is increasing, but two-way private (PMR) or land mobile radio system (LMRS) based communications remains the go-to technology for emergency services, said Motorola Solutions chief technology officer Paul Steinberg at Critical Communications World (CCW) in Berlin, Germany.
Technology saves lives, he told Enterprise IoT Insights at the Berlin show, against a backdrop of tech showcases at CCW. Motorola is fresh from purchasing Vancouver-based video surveillance and analytics firm Avigilon for $1 billion, at the end of March.
Avigilon designs and manufactures video analytics, network video management software and hardware, surveillance cameras and access control solutions used by commercial and government customers. The acquisition brings AI-tools to Motorola Solutions’ public safety, government and commercial customers.
Motorola, with a rich heritage in terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA), and the supply of two-way radios to police, ambulance and fire services, is broadening its technological portfolio and its market position through acquisition of rivals.
It snapped emergency radio network Airwave from Australian investment bank Macquarie for £817.5 million in February 2016. Airwave runs two-way radio services used by emergency staff in the UK. Its network covers 99 per cent of the UK, including remote areas such as the Highlands of Scotland.
Steinberg said: “We have a venture capitalist aspect to our business, so we always have our hand on the pulse when it comes to innovations. Mission critical communication is becoming mission critical intelligence – physical is becoming virtual.”
But despite its move to stay abreast of trends like AI, two-way PMR and LMRS systems remain its bread-and-butter, said Ricardo Gonzelez, the company’s EMEA vice president for strategy and marketing. “We’re invested in both worlds,” he said. “TETRA has been around for a long time, but we keep investing.”
Steinberg said none – “zero per cent” – of agencies are planning to retire two-way radio technologies. “Demand is still there,” he said.
Motorola Solutions vice president for Western Europe and North Africa Phil Jefferson added: “Industries are diverse, but the requirements are the same. Voice will always be the killer app – users rely on LMR because it works.”
The case for robust broadband connections between public safety workers, command centres and applications is important, the company said. Data-hungry video surveillance and reporting applications an increasingly crucial aspect of the work of police officers and fire-fighters; through its acquisitions, Motorola is able to support data, as well as voice.
“Hands-free [communications] are important for public safety – whatever you’re doing you can keep your eyes focused on the task at hand and your hands available to do it. Before too long, not everyone in the control room will be human,” said Jefferson.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to connecting people in the moments that matter.”