View from the Top

Industry Spotlight on Tony Gray, chief executive at the TCCA

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TCCA CEO Tony Gray discusses the future roles of broadband and LMR technologies within the critical-communications industry during this question-and-answer preview of the Critical Communications MENA (Middle East North Africa) show, which will be conducted on Sept. 25-26 in Dubai.

In the past 5-10 years, what do you think has had the biggest impact on public safety?

It depends whether you define ‘public safety’ as “the safety of the public” or more generically as the market for public safety-related goods and services, such as critical-communications technology.

If I focus on the latter, I think for me it has been the widescale deployment of standards-based digital PMR solutions, such as TETRA. I well remember, as a consultant, describing the features and facilities that such systems support to public safety and other users used to their traditional analog ‘walkie-talkie’ radios and seeing the looks of delight—and, in some cases, disbelief—on the faces in the audience.

Digital services have made a huge difference to the daily lives and operations of many of these users, just as future broadband services will have the potential to once again redefine and make more efficient—and effective—the work of the people we rely on to keep us safe and secure in a dangerous world.

Are there any key learnings you’d like to share with the industry?

I don’t want to sound glib here, but I have seen so many projects in the past that pushed their envelope of practical possibility to deliver beyond the so-called ‘bleeding edge’ and failed—to some greater or lesser extent—as a result. I think the learning we should all take from such project failures are the old rules of thumb, such as “KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid,” “Don’t walk before you can run,” and don’t go ‘Big Bang’ when you can avoid it with smaller incremental steps.

Is there anything you see happening in other sectors that you’d like to see used in public safety?

I’m interested, as is much of the rest of the critical-communications space, in the potential applications for developments like apps, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and so on that we see more and more in the commercial world. All these, and more that we can’t yet imagine, will start to become a reality for critical mobile users as the 4G—and, eventually, 5G and beyond—standards are developed and being deployed. I think it’s an exciting time to be living through, and I hope to see the fruits of some of the current work being delivered in coming years.

Can you share a preview of what you’ll be discussing at CC MENA in September?

I’ll be representing TCCA and its almost 150 member organizations from around the world in my role as CEO and helping to facilitate the delivery of key messages from the many global subject matter experts and thought leaders who will gather in Dubai to share experiences and knowledge with the MENA delegates.

There are agenda topics and exhibits planned covering much of what I’ve briefly touched on here, as well as many more. I believe it’ll be an exciting, stimulating and highly informative few days in one of the most dynamic and forward-looking cities in the world.

For more information about the Critical Communications MENA (Middle East North Africa) show on Sept. 25-26 in Dubai, visit


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