As we look out across 2015 and track the pace of adoption of Public Safety services against the accelerating advances in technology it becomes very clear that there will be an ever increasing readiness gap. Mobile broadband, social media, smart devices, wearables, video, the Cloud, the Internet of Things and the opportunities around Big Data and analytics complicate an already complex and challenging Public Safety ecosystem. While more than half of current radio networks face obsolescence issues, the growing skills gap and tight fiscal environment means that right now less than 10% of mission critical agencies feel they are well prepared to implement their technology vision, and that is only going to worsen unless new approaches are adopted to manage the demands for change.
In my previous blog post we discussed the main technology trends that are helping to define smarter, safer cities, where sensor monitoring, analysis and communication of real-time data create new services and capabilities that enhance the contextual awareness for frontline emergency services. The desire to embrace all this new technology is unequivocal, after all it will better society by helping to protect and save lives, but when it comes to actually making this a reality there are real challenges.
I mentioned the skills gap, and it is clear this is a major concern as mission critical services become more data-centric and reliant on new bearer technologies, working alongside private Land Mobile Radio systems such as TETRA, and commercial or private broadband mobile on 4G/LTE. When it comes to effective mobility strategies according to the CEB 61% of organisations still lack a comprehensive forecast of the skills needed to manage change, and CompTIA, the IT Industry Trade Association, believes that a staggering 93% report a gap between the skills they have and the skills they need.
So how can the industry help plug the skills gap, reduce the readiness gap and all within the constraint of ever tightening budgets?
The simple answer is to let a specialist vendor do the heavy lifting, bringing experience, technology and operations management under a single managed service. It is something we have been doing for our customers around the world for many years. Today we operate more than 20 large scale and national mission critical networks, encompassing in excess of 5,000 radio communications sites and hundreds of thousands of subscribers receiving the latest guaranteed communications technologies and services.
A move away from the capital intensive expense of customer owned and managed networks can be truly advantageous. By shifting to a model based on operational expenditure, whether hosted or managed services, build own operate (BOO) or communications as a service (CaaS) costs become more predictable, with an annualised spend that enables Public Safety agencies to more consciously plan for new service roll outs. This returns control over communications budgets back to agencies and flattens out those unpleasant large capital expenditures required to refresh technologies. And because the service is outsourced, the responsibility to manage and drive technology and service innovation, adoption and maintenance reside with the vendor.
As with any managed service, the defining aspect will be the vendor partner you chose. There is a simple checklist of questions that must be answered: Does the vendor have experience and deep understanding of the technology being delivered and the environment and industry in which it will be used? Is the vendor able to demonstrate clear operational experience as a provider? Can the vendor be trusted? The last is perhaps the most important because a successful managed service is a long term commitment. It is worth recognising that customers that get the best from a services agreement will often plan an engagement for five, ten, and in our own experience, up to 20 years.
For all the new technology, the move to adopt managed service delivery is set to be a trend with the largest and most long term impact on the delivery and support of Public Safety and mission critical infrastructure. Not only is it a simple way to address any issues of obsolescence, it is the safest way to implement and support a technology vision, providing the fastest, most reliable and cost effective means to move towards new services, applications and mission critical voice extensions.
Learn more about our Managed Services solutions here
David Parry is Director, EA Marketing. David is on LinkedIn at uk.linkedin.com/in/davidgparry
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