Why should you replace your analogue radios with digital (DMR) radios?
Throughout my travels and interactions with humanitarians in the field, there is one question which keeps on coming up: “Why did Motorola phase out analogue radios…? They worked so well!” This suggests to me that many users do not see value in replacing their analogue radios with digital (DMR) radios.
If you consider DMR as a mere substitute for analogue, then you are absolutely right in your thinking: there aren’t many apparent benefits to everyday radio checks, whether you are using DMR or analogue. But then you are missing out on all the vast benefits which DMR has to offer over analogue. And one of the real values lies in its capability for integrated data.
Life in the humanitarian world isn’t just about “checking in” regularly. It’s about unpredictable situations and how well you can respond to them. It’s not about an ideal world, where networks are stable and reliable. It’s a world where harsh environments, extreme weather conditions and volatility can occur without warning.
How well can analogue radio support you in those conditions?
Setting aside the intrinsic features of a DMR radio - such as man-down, geolocation, etc. - which can support lone workers in potentially dangerous areas out in the field, I would like to bring up capabilities that are not seen as the primary benefits of a digital system. These are all around data transfer.
Sending vital information where it needs to go, as quickly as possible
What happens when lone workers who need to send life-saving or critical transactions (such as acknowledgements, beneficiary registrations or animal counting for wildlife conservation) are without any connection to an ISP or basic communication infrastructure? This is the reality of the situations humanitarians face.
DMR comes to the fore when you need to transfer critical data quickly and securely to improve the safety of your personnel and the communities you serve. Whether via Bluetooth or WiFi, you can connect virtually any device to a digital radio.
You can transfer data - from a simple text message to financial transactions or job tickets - at the same time as voice, meaning that the network does not cut off communications and you can prioritise and override channels as needed. This ensures that the most vital information gets to where it needs to go, as quickly as possible.
DMR also allows you to track the movement of personnel and vehicles in real time, keeping up to date as events unfold and making the most of limited time and resources in disaster situations. The ability to access and share crucial information enables people to make more informed decisions and more accurately assess situations, which could save more lives and improve the efficiency of everyday operations.
Analogue radio simply cannot achieve that.
So, that is why we have phased out analogue radios. DMR takes two-way radio communication way beyond basic voice functionality, expanding possibilities and helping humanitarians to be their best in the moments that matter.
When we meet again, I will be elaborating on the capabilities of DMR by taking a closer look at interoperability (IoP) and exploring the differences between private and commercial broadband.
If you’d like more information about how Motorola Solutions’ DMR portfolio can support your operations, get in touch with me, or click on the links below:
United Nations and International Accounts Manager
Using artificial intelligence and analytics to convert data into actionable knowledge
In our fast-paced, connected world access to real-time data is almost taken for granted. When an incident occurs, data pours in from a multitude of sources. Turning that data into intelligence which can be acted upon requires the ability to qualify, filter and analyse what is received as quickly as possible. So, the quality of data has to keep on evolving, in order to meet constantly changing needs.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) are making it possible for data to become more intuitive and responsive. This has given rise to a range of mobile applications and software solutions which are transforming the way we capture, store, analyse and retrieve information on the go.
Accessing the untapped potential of data
The combination of analytics and AI provides the tools to tap into the true value of data, converting it into actionable knowledge. We can use these tools to recognise people and objects, track them based on their physical attributes and flag up unusual activity. Footage from security cameras can be filtered and searched automatically, reducing time-consuming tasks. AI can also convert speech into text and recognise sounds. This enables the transmission of information to be more adaptable across multiple devices. By improving the speed and accuracy of intelligence-gathering, better use can be made of limited resources and humanitarians can spend more time in the field.
Discovering trends in data can help us to trigger advance warnings and receive recommended courses of action, as well as to learn from and predict situations. This can promote a more consistent approach and expedite decision-making, so responders are more informed and aware as events unfold.
Thus, the improved capabilities such innovations promise could have a tremendous impact on outcomes in crisis situations.
Creating intelligent ecosystems through resilience, security and interconnectivity
Realising the power of innovation to change lives requires a lot more than sophisticated products and devices. Without secure, reliable networks and the ability to interconnect multiple systems - such as MOTORBO digital radios, LEX 11 LTE devices, MOSCAD systems, Security cameras, alarms and sensors - the transformative power of innovation can be diminished.
Motorola Solutions’ ethos is to empower users and communities by developing technology in a collaborative environment that focuses on the user’s experience. The solutions we design are purpose-built to encourage intelligent ecosystems to evolve. Our portfolio enables humanitarians to predict and prevent - as well as react and respond to - disaster situations.
Let’s examine how such innovations can bring about digital transformation in the lives of humanitarians and the communities they serve.
Centralised data gathering for mobile intelligence
In a crisis situation, data can be captured and collected in real time from a broad variety of sources – such as social media, text messages, sensors and CCTV cameras. As this data streams into the Command Centre, intelligence analysists can harness the power of technology to collate information regarding an incident in a cohesive, centralised manner. From a single console, they are able to map details and locate responders, as well as remotely control access to sensitive areas. This can include shutting down utilities which are at risk and redirecting traffic and people away from hazardous zones. Suspicious vehicles or persons can be detected and tracked, using geo-fencing to alert responders when boundaries are crossed.
Data from multiple sources is thus transferred into mobile intelligence which allows humanitarians to act based on more advanced situational awareness. Using a combination of two-way radios, body-worn cameras and cameras mounted on drones, responders can stay in touch and up to date as events unfold, gathering, accessing and sharing information on the ground and from the air in real time.
This is already happening in New Orleans, where security cameras are placed in hotspots, businesses and homes. When an incident occurs, these cameras are on the scene instantly, recording events and detecting unusual activity for more effective crime resolution and safer communities. Body sensors and body-worn cameras can dramatically improve personnel safety by raising alerts the instant someone is injured or under threat and drone-mounted cameras can help to track suspects on the move.
These are just a few examples to demonstrate the tremendous potential for analytics and AI to optimise productivity and expand resources virtually. They can accelerate the transmission of intelligence, heighten awareness and promote better preparedness. The improved decision-making and collaboration which such technological advancement can offer helps teams to remain focused on the task and be their best in the moments that matter. And that is what digital transformation is all about.
Software evolution advances innovation in mission-critical applications and services for humanitarians in the field
While Motorola Solutions’ 90-year history is deeply rooted in pioneering voice-based systems, we are constantly seeking new ways to advance the communication lifeline and help humanitarians to meet ongoing challenges. Today, our company has established itself as a trusted, end-to-end communications and intelligence provider. And that’s where we can offer you even greater value.
Motorola Solutions has continuously strived to understand the conditions humanitarians face in their daily operations. We talk regularly with humanitarian organisations to develop comprehensive, customised solutions that meet your particular requirements. And we work closely with customers to deliver high-tech, flexible and affordable voice and data solutions that support greater safety and expand capabilities, so you can be primed and prepared when you’re on the move.
Adding value to modern critical communication systems
In a crisis situation, communication centres around data – capturing it, accessing it, sharing it and analysing it - so you can make more informed decisions based on improved understanding. But this can be tricky when you’re faced with growing threats to security and stretched resources. The challenge is compounded by having to work across disparate systems. This wastes valuable time, as you have to sift through - and manage - information from multiple sources. It also makes it difficult to co-ordinate activities for seamless interaction between work groups.
Motorola Solutions is here to help you solve the tasks you’re charged with in the quickest and most efficient way possible, with an integrated, end-to-end solution that provides a comprehensive picture. It’s about delivering the right information when, where and how it’s needed, to help you increase situational awareness, streamline workflows and make better decisions, whether you’re in a situation room, out in the field or on site.
This is achieved thorough a multi-layered approach comprising:
• Two-way radio - instant, one-to-one/ group voice and data-rich communication
• Broadband work group communications – unified PTT voice and data solutions for users across different devices and networks
• Real-time tracking - of personnel, vehicles and supplies to optimise efficiency and enhance safety
• Planning, managing and streamlining workflows, using job ticketing
• Predicting and preventing emergency situations and automating processes for quicker response using Mission Critical IoT
• Telemetry - for remote monitoring and control of perimeters, machinery, power supplies, sensors and alarms
• Managed Services – ensuring your systems are maintained and managed so you can stay focused on the task at hand
Motorola Solutions has acquired a number of companies that build on our track record of developing next-generation mission-critical solutions. This has enabled us to bring together artificial intelligence (AI) and human intelligence and to create new user interfaces for delivering information.
• Integrated Control Room software and applications that centralise and simplify data collection, management and interpretation, to facilitate the co-ordination of diverse activities across multiple sites.
All these components combine to offer you integrated solutions that enhance safety and improve efficiency, enabling you to become more aware, more prepared and more in control.
Talk to us today to find out how we can work with you to add greater value to your operations and create the solutions you need to meet challenges as they arise.
A study conducted over 10 years ago found that transport was “the second-biggest overhead cost to the humanitarian system after personnel… it estimated that a fleet of four-wheel-drive vehicles operated by international humanitarian organisations numbered over 100 000, with running costs nearing $1 billion per year. [The United Nations Environment Programme] estimates this fleet size will triple by 2050”.
Today, there are still large gaps in data for the efficient management of humanitarian fleets and this could be contributing to rising operating costs and increased safety risks.
Long-distance travel is unavoidable as humanitarian organisations have to transport staff, equipment and life-saving supplies to dislocated communities – most of which are in remote locations. So, it may seem almost impossible to reduce some of the costs inherent in the delivery of humanitarian aid. However, the implementation of tools to measure, monitor and manage transportation can result in significant savings, particularly within the humanitarian sector, and this has been supported by more recent studies.
Given the fleet management solutions now available to proactively monitor energy consumption, it has been estimated that humanitarian organisations could benefit from:
• “at least 10 per cent reduction of fuel costs on ground transport
• 37 per cent reduction through behavior change and more efficient technologies
• 60 per cent savings on generation
– all using currently available, affordable and proven practice and technology changes. At current prices, this could mean operational savings of over $517 million a year”.
A Solution that’s Simple, Compatible, Scalable and Affordable
Motorola Solutions’ approach to fleet management ensures compatibility with all UN vehicles, avoiding duplicating hardware equipment in the vehicle and allowing you to keep running costs low, while providing the flexibility to add capacity and features as required.
Here’s how it works:
• Deploy a telematics hardware box with embedded GSM modem
• Where relevant, add a VSAT modem, and/or integrate your existing two-way radio hardware (TETRA, DMR or HF) for tracking vehicles
• Choose the best available technology to transmit data, depending on your location
• Use GPS for always-transmit positioning
• Consider buffering vehicle reports and transmit only when needed and affordable
We offer another solution with our Application Partner GINA to transmit additional data related to security, logistics and project management, using TETRA and MOTORBO, as well as GSM and Satellite networks. This enables you to gain a real-time view of operations across a unified platform, all on a single dashboard.
Advancing the Future of Fleet Management
Continuing Motorola Solutions’ history of innovation in fleet management, we recently expanded our portfolio with the acquisition of VaaS, to include data and image analytics for vehicle location. This makes it possible for fixed and mobile licence plates to be captured and analysed automatically, helping to tighten security and shorten response times when an incident occurs.
Humanitarian organisations can now choose from a range of unique Fleet Management Solutions that empower your workforce to:
• Share data intelligently – collect information and photographs from the field, produce incident reports and track the progress of projects
• Improve security – a panic button triggers an immediate email and SMS notification to pre-defined contacts; early warning messages alert convoys entering high-risk areas; evacuation routes are planned and mapped in advance; border crossings and unplanned journeys can be detected, offering greater protection of personnel
• Enhance situational awareness – statistical data and real-time mapping locates personnel and vehicles and sends reports from the field
Whether you need to manage a small or large fleet, we can customise a cost-effective, scalable solution that will help you to:
• Minimise accidents and speeding
• Reduce vehicle maintenance, service costs and down-time
• Promote greater accountability
• Cut carbon emissions
• Enhance personnel safety
• Contact me, Travis Heneveld, to talk about your particular needs
• Learn more about Motorola Solutions’ TETRA and MOTOTRBO data infrastructure
• Download our Application Partner GINA’s brochure
 Ibid. Pg 4.
Surveillance cameras and video analytics may not be technologies which one would traditionally associate with humanitarian operations. However, breakthrough innovations in video surveillance are working with Motorola Solutions’ two-way radios and CommandCentral Aware platform to deliver a layered approach to security that is powerful, pre-emptive and preventative.
Real-time alerts and actionable information from an integrated source can offer humanitarians a detailed overview that enables more proactive monitoring, more effective communication and quicker response to incidents, reducing threats to personnel safety and providing greater protection of communities at risk, as well as securing valuable assets.
How it works
1 - Monitor - with smart surveillance
You may be aware that Motorola Solutions recently acquired Avigilon, an organisation that designs, develops, and manufactures video analytics, network video management software and hardware, surveillance cameras, and access control solutions. This has enabled us to develop end-to-end security solutions, incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and video analytics to search for suspicious activity based on specific criteria.
So, whether you’re needing to protect staff residences, storage facilities, high-value assets such as vehicles, medical equipment and cash or safeguard sensitive information, video surveillance provides real-time awareness to reduce theft and prevent damage. It can also empower guards by providing greater situational awareness to warn of fighting in the vicinity, alert them to suspicious vehicles or people and control access by screening visitors before they enter a site.
Avigilon’s Appearance Search and Unusual Motion Detection (UMD) Technology makes it possible to search through hours of video easily and quickly, using face analytics and physical descriptions to identify and track the movement of people, vehicles or assets.
UMD technology learns how to detect and flag unusual motion, to automatically guide your attention to what’s important, pre-empting situations before they escalate, saving time and freeing up resources.
This sophisticated, self-learning AI solution alleviates the need to watch video cameras constantly and overcomes the limitations of the human attention span, bringing a new level of automation to surveillance. It can also be added to any connected video stream or IP camera, to protect existing investments in non-analytic cameras.
2 - Communicate with greater awareness
When suspicious activity is detected, two-way radio empowers humanitarians to contact the right people instantly, share important information and make informed decisions about how to respond.
Information gathering can be further enhanced with Motorola Solutions’ Si500 Video Speaker Microphone (VSM) body-worn camera, which combines voice communication with video and still image capture to record events the moment they happen. With five integrated microphones, the Si500 can be combined with a Motorola Solutions digital two-way radio to enhance situational awareness in the field and make it easier to gather and review evidence.
This compact, rugged device could prove useful in the monitoring of aid programmes, refugee registrations or events such as elections, as well as to promote greater accountability.
3 - Respond according to actionable information
Motorola Solutions has integrated Avigilon’s video analytics technology into our CommandCentral Aware platform, to create a powerful, unified source of actionable information. Humanitarian organisations can harness this platform to access incident details, computer-aided despatch and records intelligence, geospacial data and real-time alerts from multiple sources.
The result is a more detailed and informed picture of what is happening that enables decisive action to be taken. Video analytics can also automatically alert humanitarians to critical events that may require further investigation, helping to proactively keep people safe and assets protected.
A unique system for safety
The combination of Motorola Solutions with Avigilon closes the circle in communication, saving time, money and resources, enhancing processes and procedures for a more proactive approach to safety. This layered approach gives humanitarians in the field reassurance that they are protected and promotes safer cities where citizens feel secure and communities can thrive.
What is the one thing you depend on so you’re primed and ready, both in your everyday work and when disaster strikes? A lifeline can represent many things: food and water, shelter, medical supplies, air lifts, funding… and communication.
Without communication, operations would grind to a halt. And we’re not just talking about voice communication. Technological innovation has revolutionised the way we interact and we’ve become increasingly dependent on staying connected. It’s opened up opportunities for sending, receiving and processing information in ways we never thought possible.
For example, just imagine if your communication solution could enable you to predict disasters before they occur and be more prepared in order to improve outcomes. What difference would it make if your teams could have the intelligence they need, where and when they need it?
These are the questions Motorola Solutions has been thinking about as we’ve considered how to advance the communications lifeline. During the past 90 years, we’ve partnered with thousands of customers in over 100 countries, working in the field to understand how organisations use technologies and determine how we can help you to communicate effortlessly and reliably, without interruption.
We’ve advanced the communications lifeline way beyond voice to become the leading provider of mission-critical communications and video technology, so it’s now even easier for you to co-ordinate disaster response and improve security – even when there is no existing infrastructure.
From Walkie Talkie to Next-Generation Digital Radio
Advancements in our Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) portfolio have expanded the capabilities of two-way radio to deliver rich data functionality that enables you to track personnel and enhance their safety in hazardous situations. The ability to issue job tickets, co-ordinate despatch and monitor vehicles delivering aid in real time can transform logistics and optimise the time taken to get vital food and medical supplies where they’re needed.
Our two-way radios can also help to streamline operations at refugee shelters, making it easier and more efficient for you to scan, capture and process vital information. This can facilitate registration, as well as the identification of refugees for voucher exchange programmes or when distributing medicines.
Who would have thought that all this could be achieved with what started out as a walkie talkie?
Today, Motorola Solutions invests over half a billion dollars a year on research and development to build new intuitive, resilient solutions that advance your operations into the future. Our ongoing innovation has consistently challenged technological boundaries to help humanitarians be more prepared, more confident and more connected.
Working Better Together
While two-way radio is the ideal tool for many humanitarians – especially those working on the front line – we realise that it’s not the only communications tool you need. Aid workers using smartphones and tablets must be able to connect with their colleagues to prevent information bottlenecks and silos.
Motorola Solutions’ WAVE Broadband Push-to-Talk platform removes communication barriers to enable work groups to share critical information via images, location, status and text messages. WAVE thus extends the communication lifeline by offering a unified network across multiple devices, so that teams can collaborate more effectively at the push of a button.
Making Data Actionable
As part of our commitment to continued innovation, Motorola Solutions has embarked on joint ventures and acquired a number of companies whose solutions complement our portfolio. The recent acquisition of Avigilon has resulted in the integration of advanced video analytics into our Command Central Aware software solution. Dispatchers and analysts can now access a single source for real-time intelligence that combines video feeds, incident details, alerts, data mapping and responder location.
Avigilon’s Control Centre video management software will allow automatic alerts to be activated in real time when unusual activities are detected in people, vehicles or objects of interest. It transforms video surveillance from reactive to proactive monitoring, requiring less time to be spent watching video feeds. This enables responders to gain a more detailed picture of what is happening at the scene of an incident and take decisive action. It is another example of how we’re working to enable the seamless handling of emergency situations.
Setting Tomorrow’s Standards
Motorola Solutions is extremely proud to be celebrating our 90th anniversary. This is a milestone few companies reach and it’s down to the trust our customers place in us and the innovation that is part of our DNA. We remain committed to partnering with you as we continue to break boundaries in delivering the communications lifeline that ensures you are primed and prepared in the moments that matter.
Speed Up Response Times and Cut Costs by Planning your Emergency Communication Network in Advance
Planning ahead for disasters is inherent to humanitarian organisations. However, the impact of advanced emergency preparedness in terms of time and cost had not been fully realised, until a recent study which was commissioned by UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP)
Focusing on Chad, Pakistan and Madagascar, the study found that investments in early preparedness could speed response times by up to 50 days and deliver a return on investment as high as 2:1. The ability to improve response times – particularly in high-risk areas – presents significant potential for saving more lives during a crisis, while the impressive cost savings could help tight budgets to stretch even further.
The study examined four core humanitarian operational areas – including logistics and procurement – and highlighted the benefits of pre-positioning emergency supplies such as telecommunications.
Ensuring You’re Connected in the Moments that Matter
A co-ordinated, cohesive response to a crisis situation is impossible without communication. And preparing an emergency response communication network in advance can make it much quicker and more cost-effective to deploy.
Communication is not only essential to emergency response, however: it can also help to predict and prevent disasters. For example, sensors and alarms can provide early warnings before an incident occurs and help to expedite evacuations, while the remote management and control of infrastructure such as power supplies and water flow can limit the extent of damage.
Partnering for Preparedness
Motorola Solutions’ specialisation in critical communication networks, combined with our extensive experience working with disaster response organisations around the world, enables us to share our knowledge to address the potential hazards and desired outcomes of a crisis situation.
We are able to work closely with humanitarians on the ground, harnessing their awareness of the local environment, communities and infrastructure to plan an advance emergency communication network that meets their particular requirements, is robust and resilient and can be set up in the shortest time possible.
This includes identifying the most suitable locations for rapid deployment, overcoming topographical challenges, locating storage facilities, providing 24-hour technical support and delivering on-demand training so that users get the most out of their equipment.
Where to start?
When preparing an emergency response network, a good starting point is to identify which communication networks are already in place and to establish how resilient they are: can these networks be relied upon to keep humanitarian teams connected, whenever and wherever they need to?
Once these factors have been taken into account, we can consider how to complement or strengthen the existing network. This could be through the addition of a robust, digital two-way radio network that enables voice and data communication to be prioritised. It ensures that critical transmissions get through, even in harsh conditions. The immediacy and cost-effective nature of two-way radio, as well as its ability to cover vast distances, makes it a viable solution for advanced emergency preparedness, especially in cases where the communication infrastructure has been destroyed.
MOTOTRBO DMR digital two-way radios offer a vast range of advanced features to maximise operational efficiency and safety. In addition to high-performance voice and data functionality and enhanced range for more reliable communications, their integrated GPS can help to improve response times by identifying the location of personnel and vehicles. DMR radios also offer an emergency mode option which a user in distress can activate, to send an emergency alarm message to the control room, as well as the ability to interrupt transmissions for emergency broadcasts.
With over 3000 trunked MOTOTRBO radio systems deployed worldwide, a complete ecosystem of services and expertise is in place to ensure the long-term feasibility and resilience of your network. A wide choice of applications makes it possible to customise communications according to the specific needs of different humanitarian work teams, with additional features such as automated alarm management, job ticketing and dispatch.
In situations where a communication infrastructure does exist, LTE can deliver on-demand broadband, which can be intelligently prioritised. Multimedia information can be shared in real time across networks and devices using WAVE On Cloud. Users can receive an SMS containing a network set-up file and Application download link, together with a user account and password. This allows Push-to-Talk communication to be extended quickly and easily to smartphones and tablets, storing data securely in the cloud for centralised access.
Once a kit list has been drawn up, a strategically-placed warehouse needs to be located for storage and deployment. This provides ready access to the right technology in-country, which enables communication to be set up much more rapidly and seamlessly. There is also the option to access kit stored by an in-country Motorola Solutions Distributor, who can offer 48-hour readiness.
The establishment of an advance emergency response network can be done in a flexible manner – either via a once-off capital investment, or as a service model investment which can then be managed and maintained for a fixed annual fee.
Keeping Everything Working as it Should
Having all your equipment stored and ready to set up is all well and good, but when disaster strikes, you also need reassurance that everything will be in perfect working order and that batteries are fully charged.
Motorola Solutions offers a range of Managed Services to keep humanitarians connected and reduce the total cost of ownership. Covering onsite and technical support, repair, preventative maintenance, network event monitoring and upgrades, Managed Services allows humanitarian organisations to avoid the distraction of trying to keeping pace with technology and the cost of having to retain the requisite skills in-house. The ability to offload these operational risk, cost and management responsibilities also results in a sharper focus on the moments that matter.
Better planning means better outcomes
The evidence presented in the UNICEF/WFP study provides a strong argument for investing in emergency preparedness. Such measures ensure that humanitarians are well prepared to respond to crises backed by a resilient, critical communications network. This approach can also improve the outcome of humanitarian operations and realise substantial cost savings.
Get in touch to find out more about how we can partner with you to tailor your emergency response network so that you have the resilience and support, when and where you need it.
During April, the World Bank hosted a panel discussion which highlighted the symbiotic relationship between security and development operations. It was noted that, if countries affected by conflict are to have a chance at recovery, they need a sustainable sense of security and lasting peace. This creates the platform for development, whereby economies can start to be rebuilt, international investors can find the reassurance they seek and local job opportunities can be created. The discussion also considered that fragile societies need a long-term perspective - which hinges on ongoing stability - in order to avoid the impoverishment and hopelessness that makes them susceptible to radicalisation and corruption.
The regional spread of conflict has made it far more complex to address, requiring closer collaboration between governments and the organisations helping them to create an environment for growth. Rules and regulations need to be simplified, so that a common strategy can be rolled out more quickly and effectively and access to basic services such as utilities, education and healthcare can be re-established.
Compounding this challenge is the spread of technology, which has raised aspirations, potentially fuelling tensions. In addition, developing nations are faced with increasing debt and the need to fund more advanced and protracted security operations.
The Need for Private Investment
According to a report by the World Economic Forum, Africa will need around $100 billion each year, in order to address the gaps in infrastructure and less than half of that is currently financed. Therefore, it is evident that unemployment, mass migration and instability can only be addressed with the help of private investment.
Considering the continent’s potential for commercial opportunities, it raises the question as to what is impeding private investment. The G-20 Compact with Africa (CWA) initiative is working to bring G-20 members, partner countries and international organisations together to develop a blueprint for economic development. Responsible leadership and investment in infrastructure will be key to enabling what is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world to realise its productive potential and create opportunities for growth.
A joint report by the African Development Bank, IMF and World Bank on the G-20 CWA notes that: “Priority should be given to investment in infrastructure, which is critical to attract private investment, connect Africa’s regional markets and better integrate them into global value chains.”
So, how does a two-way radio network form part of this solution?
A Secure, Digital Two-Way Radio Network Underpins Ongoing Security
Communication is a crucial part of any country’s infrastructure. And a secure, digital two-way radio network is vital for the establishment of a secure and safe community. The cost-effective nature of two-way radio has resulted in widespread adoption in African countries, as it presents a viable solution in the midst of rising debt and decreased stability. However, Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world in deploying nationwide public safety networks and this is largely due to a lack of funding.
With the blurring of boundaries between security and development, funding can now be made available to build a critical communications infrastructure for ongoing stability. A secure public safety network supports police and emergency response operations in addressing a lack of resources, by increasing efficiency in providing services to the public and helping them to move from a reactive to a preventative approach.
It achieves this by:
Over time, other critical data services – including the remote monitoring and control of water, electricity, oil and gas supplies, digital identification, emergency response and crime watch – can be added to the network.
Motorola Solutions has substantial experience in providing mission-critical communications infrastructure that is designed to meet the particular needs of countries – be it based on LTE, TETRA or Astro.
Here are just a few examples:
From design, planning and implementation to systems integration, network management, maintenance and cloud hosting, Motorola Solutions has the field-proven expertise and solutions portfolio to help close the infrastructure gap, support sustainable security and promote economic development.
Building the Internet of Humanitarian Things (IoHT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) represents our ability to connect devices, machines and infrastructure across wireless networks and enable them to send and receive data. IoT has allowed us to automate processes and connect our world in ways we never thought possible, transforming productivity and creating immense potential for applications across every industry. In the humanitarian world, this potential could help to save more lives and reduce the impact of disasters.
Technological advancements are already greatly enhancing humanitarian operations – as we are seeing in the use of electronic ID cards to manage claims for food assistance in the Philippines’ Food for Assets Programme and the deployment of iris scan technology for the purchasing of food in refugee camps in Syria, for example.
So when I consider how Motorola Solutions’ Industrial Internet of Things is proving life-saving by ensuring that critical infrastructure – such as power stations and water utilities – is kept up and running, then I cannot help but postulate what opportunities these solutions present for aid organisations.
Connecting People, Equipment and Infrastructure
The remote monitoring and control of infrastructure across resilient, secure wireless networks gives intelligence to critical assets, enabling them to detect malfunctions, fluctuations in temperature or leaks and raise alarms automatically to avert disaster. The application of such solutions abounds - from early warning systems that trigger alarms or broadcast pre-recorded messages across multiple control centres, to automatically adjusting well pumping, controlling water quality or regulating system pressure to maximise efficiency. Municipal infrastructure - such as motorways and street lights - is already being managed and controlled remotely, while real-time weather and soil data is being incorporated into the remote management and control of crop irrigation, to reduce waste and boost yields.
Our ability to attach sensors to virtually anything – people, machines, vehicles and infrastructure – enables us to improve the flow of real-time information and optimise efficiency way beyond critical infrastructure. Motorola Solutions has introduced sensors in innovative ways which have had a significant impact on public safety, enabling the command centre to receive notification when a police office pulls a gun from a holster, for example. Information is also relayed regarding the officer’s heart rate, registering increasingly intense activity which can save time and potentially lives. Our Augmented Reality (AR) headsets make it possible to provide a bird’s-eye, 3D view of an incident, combining holographic and virtual images that allow tactical response to be determined miles away from an incident.
We have the potential to share this technological expertise to help humanitarians benefit from a similar transformation in operational efficiency and the way in which data is used and managed.
Taking Wearable Technology, AR and iOT to Aid Workers
Motorola Solutions has invested in a number of organisations and start-ups to promote technological innovation that enables a smarter, more connected response. Here are just a few examples of the possibilities these partnerships present:
We’re constantly facing new challenges and imagining new ways to improve the safety and operational impact of first responders. If your organisation is looking to collaborate or pursue “IoHT” opportunities to make humanitarian operations smarter and more connected, please drop me a line.
In a recent report on commitments made at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, stakeholders identified “the lack of reliable, accurate and transparent data as a consistent and cross-cutting obstacle.”
The ability to capture, share and access data - whether you’re in a refugee camp, conflict zone or disaster area - is crucial in helping the right decisions to be made as quickly as possible. It requires a range of technologies that can adapt to the demands of different users and harsh environments, without detracting from the task at hand.
Motorola Solutions has worked closely with end users and developers to create a portfolio of applications that deliver real-time intelligence and automate processes so that humanitarians can spend more time on the job at hand.
Improve situational awareness with mission-critical intelligence
As events start unravelling, situations can change rapidly. Information often comes streaming in from numerous sources and this can cause confusion, if it is not properly managed. The CommandCentral Intelligence Platform centralises and simplifies data management to facilitate planning and provide operational support.
Built on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud, CommandCentral protects your data across all servers and software applications, ensuring you can correlate and analyse information from diverse devices. Locate and track personnel or vehicles and stream video from the command centre to mobile devices in real time to increase situational awareness, enhance staff safety and make more intelligent decisions.
Find the right people, communicate and co-ordinate actions with the PSX Messaging and Mapping application. Text, photos and video can be shared with your talk group or select personnel instantly and securely, whether they’re using smartphones or two-way radios.
And when outdoor GPS is unavailable, the TRX NEON Indoor Location System tracks personnel in real time, with the ability to model buildings in 3D and review activities after an event has been completed. This application can be used to support enhanced search and rescue and deliver improved situational awareness for operations underground.
Capture and validate data more accurately
Accounting for victims in a disaster situation and tracking groups on the move can be less of a challenge with eTWIST. The application allows you to include high-resolution photography with integrated GPS geo-locating and grid mapping. Data accuracy is dramatically enhanced through on-site data collection and automatic validation via Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth communications.
You can also use eTWIST to manage the delivery of goods such as medicines and food supplies, using barcode/RFID scanning to rapidly populate entries. The software further enhances operational efficiency by allowing users to employ bio-scanning and voice commands for data capture.
Enhance security with end-to-end data encryption and identity management
Aid agencies are at significant risk from hackers, as has been evidenced by a recent security alert related to the storage of data of vulnerable people. When critical information is exchanged via wireless communications, humanitarians must have reliable end-to-end data encryption.
Motorola Solutions’ Mobile VPN has been specifically designed to keep information secure while managing data across multiple mobile applications and wireless networks. Workers can stay securely connected while they move in and out of coverage or switch between 4G/LTE, 3G or WiFi networks.
We also offer a range of identity management services, including single sign-on authentication for password management and authentication.
Keep mobile teams communicating across devices
Different tasks require different devices, so it is not always possible to standardise across work groups. The WAVE Mobile Communicator extends workforce communication to anywhere that has a network connection, turning your Android or iOS smart device into a multi-channel push-to-talk (PTT) handset. This allows workers using smartphones and other devices to communicate with two-way radio users securely over broadband networks, providing unified voice and text messaging.
Boost workforce efficiency with greater collaboration
Information can be captured in many ways and the last thing humanitarians need is to be juggling numerous devices to get their job done. The mobile application SceneDoc provides a consistent means of documenting events. Capture images, video and audio files, sketch and take notes in a digital notepad, complete agency forms and generate reports quickly and accurately, while having a near real-time view into the scene. SceneFiles are synched with a hosted or on-premise administrative back-end for access and collaboration from any connected device.
With multiple agencies and work teams involved in peacekeeping, disaster response and development, collaboration is essential for a positive outcome. DForce is a mobile collaboration application that allows teams to create and share information rapidly. Track your co-workers on a map using GPS and share whiteboards, messages, files and images when you’re in the field.
Another application which has proven useful for asset management, process management and data collection is Touch Mobile. The app allows you to look up assets geospatially by barcode, direct part mark or GPS location. Collect data offline and upload it once you have a connection, query and filter data, get customised reports delivered directly to your device and generate work orders.
Co-developed solutions based on proven technologies
These are just some examples of how technology can support humanitarians to meet the tough demands they face in preventing and reducing human suffering. They have already been tried and tested in the field and can be adapted if required to vastly improve the capacity to collect, monitor and analyse data and to help data-driven humanitarian decision-making to become the norm.