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Q&A with Alex Richardson of IHS Markit about control-room, public-safety trends

Table of Contents:

Alex Richardson, author of IHS Markit's 2017 Command & Control Rooms Report, provides background on several key trends in the critical-communications industry, including control-room consolidation, leverging cloud solutions, shifts to IP-based broadband technologies, and greater sharing of data, video and resources throughout the industry.

From Mission Critical Technologies

IHS Markit recently released its 2017 Command & Control Rooms Report, and we spoke to Alex Richardsonauthor of the report—to find out why this research is important.

Alex is a senior research analyst within the Security Technology business line at IHS Markit, covering the markets for critical-communications equipment, command-and-control rooms and safe cities. Alongside syndicated research on these topics, he also contributes to custom and consulting projects related to these areas and other technologies used in the public-safety sector and for emergency communications.

At present, Alex spends most of his time tracking industry trends by speaking with leadership at technology firms, attending trade shows and conferences, and conducting end-user opinion research. Prior to IHS Markit, he worked in the aerospace & defence sector and in consulting roles where his responsibilities included product management, competitive analysis and strategy research.

What were the key learnings from the report?

The control-room market is unique in that growth varies substantially by region, with more mature markets like EMEA and North America growing at approximately 5% CAGR over 2016 to 2021 and Asia Pacific, an emerging market, growing at approximately 10% over the same period. Many factors spur changes in the control-room market, among them an increasing preference for product suites, the convergence of dispatching and security functions and control-room consolidation and resource sharing among others analyzed in the research.

We have estimated there are approximately 250,000 control rooms globally, with about 21,000 within the public-safety sector alone.

Did you discover any unexpected trends in the market?

While the markets for traditional control-room equipment like CAD (computer-aided dispatch) , call-taking and voice (radio) dispatch are consolidating (i.e. Motorola acquisition of Spillman & Airbus, TriTech of Tiburon and other M&A activity in the CAD space), especially at the high to mid tiers, certain segments of the market are opening up. We’re hearing about small, niche firms entering the market providing dispatching applications, solutions offered via cloud and analytics products.

What are the potentially disruptive solutions you identified, and why do they matter?

Broadband networks are definitely a disruptor, especially to voice dispatch and the LMR side. We have witnessed this in the United States, where agencies were waiting to see what happens with FirstNet before upgrading their radio infrastructure. Broadband over the near term will act as a complementary technology to LMR, but 5-10 years down the line, it may replace LMR.

CRM solutions and security-management platforms (like PSIM – physical security information management software) are making strong headway, especially with large-scale control-room consolidations and Smart/Safe City deployments. The reason for this is the vast array of systems that need to be integrated and managed within these facilities. For instance, CAD and RMS (records management software), video surveillance, sensors and even other types of databases feed into these wider management platforms, so operators can gain visibility at a very high level.

While these security systems don’t necessarily take away market share of CAD, for instance (you need subsystems like CAD and video surveillance to provide information to PSIM), the nature of operations changes from being call-taking- and CAD-focused to a much wider picture, including the video surveillance and sensors, which can generate alerts, etc.—much like what was generated from an emergency call in the past.

Can you give us some insight into the kind of personnel you interviewed to compile the report?

Key management, marketing, strategy and sales director-level personnel from technology vendors including: CAD & RMS firms, call-taking/CPE, GIS, voice dispatch, ICCS and incident management systems, as well as systems integrators, consultants and a range of end users, from operations managers to communications system managers.

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