View from the Top

Myriad applications promise to play key role in the advancement of critical communications

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Buoyed by the promised reliability and security promised by the FirstNet system, public-safety users soon should benefit from the development of an application ecosystem that already is blossoming in the consumer and commercial markets.

Voice is not the only compelling application. Every minute of the day, smart technologies such as augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are being incorporated into more communications solutions for an array of niche uses. 

With augmented reality, instead of traveling to trade shows or customers, sales reps will be able to share a link to a 360° experience(s) of their products and demos. In field services, AR is already starting to proliferate. Simply by pointing a smartphone at a machine, a technician can receive training and repair instructions superimposed over the image on the machine. 

Artificial intelligence is spreading like wildfire in a multitude of ways, including serving as a 24/7 watchdog to identify potential system issues before they become problems. Who knows, eventually smart tech may completely change the way first responders operate—all we need is that “killer app.”

Of course, applications are only as effective as the networks they ride on. The arrival of FirstNet’s nationwide network has opened up a huge market opportunity, which could prompt giant companies like Honeywell, General Dynamics, Boeing, etc., to enter the public-safety communications space with new sector-specific devices. 

Until now, I think these huge conglomerates viewed the two-way radio industry serving first responders as too small and too fragmented to even consider. Now that the market opportunity is nationwide and will become more standards-based, don’t be surprised if you see such major new competitors enter this playing field. For these really big companies, the design, installation and maintenance of networks is where the real profits lie, and FirstNet is a network opportunity that includes many valuable features.

But for this network to be successful, technologies must provide the key characteristics high-priority users require: reliability, security, low latency, device-to-device and group calling, talker identification, and so on. In addition, more progressive capabilities must be offered, such as location and data services, interconnection with legacy systems, console interfaces and more specialized apps.

Will there be bumps in the broadband road along the way? Sure. Will those issues be resolved? Absolutely.

Remember, without roads, we have no cars. Similarly, without a powerful-yet-affordable wireless network, there will be no advanced communications.

Hang on tight, because it’s going to be a heck of a ride!

Dave George, Chief Engineer and President of Pryme Radio, holds 29 patents and is the inventor of multiple award-winning products. An RF engineer for over 40 years, George is a key influencer in the public sector’s transition from radio to broadband. 

 

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Forward-looking perspectives from top leaders, regarding where our industry is today and, more importantly, where it is heading.

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