This year’s Critical Communications World is bigger and better than ever. Melissa Massey previews its key themes, features and sessions
Taking place from May 31 to June 2 in RAI Amsterdam’s exhibition halls, this year’s Critical Communications World is forecast to be the biggest in the event’s history to date, with the number of critical communications professionals expected to walk the exhibition halls in 2016 at 4,000, up from 3,452 at Barcelona last year and 3,127 at Paris in 2013.
Well-known critical communications vendors including Motorola Solutions, Sepura, Huawei, Rohill, Finmeccanica and Airbus Defence and Space will join more than 50 first-time exhibitors, comprising the largest exhibitor offering ever seen at this globally-recognised event.
Focused on this year’s theme of developing critical communications in an era of data, applications and emerging technologies, approximately 200 expert speakers from around the globe will be poised to offer forward-thinking insights, discuss challenges faced by different stakeholders across critical communications sectors, and take part in live interviews where attendees can post questions at the registration desk.
Key topics mooted for discussion include the relationship between LTE and PMR technologies, considering future technology developments through the lens of smart cities, UAVs, and analysing the pros and cons of big data capture and the corresponding questions surrounding control room processing capabilities, cyber security safeguarding and its applications.
A plethora of key topics for mission critical users will be the focus of the first day’s masterclasses at Critical Communications World. TCCA SCADA Work Group chair Nick Smye will lead the ‘TETRA for SCADA and Smart Grids’ talk. This session (the second of the four morning sessions (taking place from 9am to 12pm) will discuss the importance of SCADA protocol optimisation for TETRA and the latter’s suitability for smart grid applications.
The final session of the four afternoon masterclasses taking place from 1pm to 4pm will be ‘Mission Critical Applications’ lead by Hannu Aronsson, chair of the TCCA Applications Working Group. Focused on mission critical communications through the lens of data and applications, the aim of this masterclass is to show how users can get the most out of applications and data, using real-world end user experiences as examples.
Dovetailing the close of the first day’s eight masterclasses, Critical Communication World’s official opening ceremony and welcome networking reception take place at 4pm and 5pm respectively, offering delegates the opportunity to be the first to meet vendors and access the latest technology being exhibited at the show.
The 18th edition of the event offers more face-to-face opportunities for vendors and end user delegates to make connections during the three-day event than ever before, such as the Heineken Museum networking party taking place at 6.30pm on Wednesday June 1 and the VIP party at the Skylounge. In addition a Critical Communication World’s networking app will be launched.
New features for this year’s two-day exhibition from June 1 to June 2 include a VIP delegate programme offering VIP tours through the exhibition, power roundtable sessions, and brand new visitor zones that address major questions being asked by critical communications professionals worldwide.
With participation from all the major suppliers, CCW's exhibition allows end-users to get a good feel for the latest product offerings and technologies
Also making its debut in 2016 is the Critical Communications Finland Pavilion – the first user-driven country pavilion at Critical Communications World.
“The target is to incubate information exchange and co-operation across users and solution suppliers from different countries and backgrounds,” explains TCCA Critical Communications Broadband Group chairman, and organiser of the Finnish Pavilion Tero Pesonen.
“Finnish authorities and the national public safety operator VIRVE will be sharing how Finnish safety and security agencies, social stakeholders and solution providers have made progress through co-operation and collaboration.
“They are there to discuss the innovations made to overcome the challenges and roadblocks in terms of processes, administration and technology. Visitors can experience practical live examples of multiagency co-operation and meet 14 Finnish technology providers that have enabled the success in co-operation.
“Also solutions and strategies for how Finland will address the challenges of the transition to mobile broadband and ever increasing demand for cyber security will be openly presented.”
In addition to the two-day plenary sessions, this year three new free-to-attend zones have been introduced: data applications and control rooms, cyber security, and future technologies. Starting at 11am and finishing late afternoon, each zone offers visitors the opportunity to attend free seminars, networking hubs, demo tours and speed networking sessions focused on key areas of debate for the critical communications industry.
“The new zones are a reflection of the diversification of critical communications in light of the evolution of LTE within existing networks,” explains Critical Communications World event director Emma Banymandhub. “Technologies and applications supporting mission-critical big data, safeguards to heighten cyber security, and the evolution of the control room require further emphasis and discussion. These zones will deliver a great opportunity to learn from and network with experts in these fields.”
In the cyber security zone identifying cyber threats and prioritising and implementing safeguards will shape discussions, in addition to the relationship between social media and public safety.
On day one of the exhibition at the zone, Copper Horse chief executive David Rogers will give an overview of the most recent cyber threats to have occurred globally, while at the same time profiling hackers – who they are, what they want and how they go about it.
Key topics up for discussion in the data applications and control rooms zone include critical data and its application, and technologies to support the critical control room.
On June 1 a user case study will be presented by Norwegian Police Special Forces on mobile TETRA-compatible command and control with encrypted communication. On June 2 utilising real-time data from mobile devices to enhance and secure connectivity and augment the situational view will be the subject of discussion in Bittium senior product manager Anton Gyllenberg’s talk.
In the future technologies zone, understanding the impact of video communications and exploring the effect of IoT in critical industries will be the key focus for June 1 and June 2 respectively.
Developments in the applications of UAVs will be explored in the morning of June 1, with a case study from end user Royal Military Academy of Belgium research scientist Haris Balta. He will share how UAVs have supported the service and how they can play a valuable future role in the EU.
The importance of innovation in driving future cities will inform the later speeches in the zone on June 1, with Thales Network and Infrastructure Systems marketing and strategy director André Mechaly presenting a talk entitled ‘Connected officers for a safer smart city’.
Starting at 8am and running throughout the day are plenary panel sessions and end user/operator presentations. Speaking in the keynote panel session on the subject of ‘Are we currently trying to invent the wheel?’ in the morning of June 1 is DNK Norway director general Tor Helge Lyngstøl. Virve chief executive Jarmo Vinkvist, Bravo chief executive Fahad Al Mushayt and Public Safety Communication Europe president David Lund will also be on the panel, moderated by ETSI chief technology officer Adrian Scrase.
The session aims to offer an overview of current and future critical communication evolution plans globally and will examine the business case needed to justify investment in enhancing existing critical communications systems.
“The session will cover a wide range of topics connected to the Norwegian-Swedish collaboration,” says Lyngstøl. He plans to share his experience and shed light on some of the key challenges and lessons so far.
The goal of the Inter-System-Interface trial is to establish cross-border communication for public safety agencies using the countries’ national Nødnett and Rakel TETRA networks. Norway shares a land border with Sweden and there is a long tradition of cross-border co-operation.
“We have learnt a lot from the ISI process,” continues Lyngstøl. “With ISI seamless communication during a rescue or other public safety mission does not have to end at the countries’ border. This is growing increasingly important as extreme weather events become more frequent and crime becomes more international.
“The trial is unique as it involves not only the technical challenges of connecting two national PPDR networks, but also the alignment of two nations and three agencies’ routines and procedures. Users are heavily involved and have aligned their procedures cross-border. Legal aspects of ISI have been investigated, and a bilateral agreement between the two countries is to be signed.”
Taking part in one of two Deep Dive panel talks as part of the plenary session on June 2, Federal Agency for Public Safety Digital Radio (BDBOS) head of directorate operations Barbara Held will discuss the planning stages, process and challenges faced when effectively increasing TETRA usage to 600,000 users in Germany.
The German public safety network BOS, financed and co-ordinated between the 16 German states and the federal administration, has been established as “one network for all”. Including the 19 German police forces, fire brigades, rescue workers and other mission critical users in the network, the organisational questions and decision-making processes for the different German states was the biggest challenge at the beginning, Held explains.
“Afterwards the rollout went according to plan from region to region and has now reached a total coverage of 98 per cent of the German territory – integrating a total of 4,790 base stations,” reveals Held. “Police have switched nearly completely to the digital radio and fire brigades and other first responder organisations are still in the process of migration. At the end of March 2016 the German network counted 644,659 subscribers, of whom 316,500 were active during this month. Setting up a nationwide network serving many different institutions entails a lot of planning and co-ordination, even more so when you are acting in a federal system.”
As for what other countries could learn from the planning and implementation of the network, Held highlights the necessity of a central service provider like the German Agency for Public Safety Digital Radio (BDBOS) and the need to establish a sophisticated governance system.
At the panel session Held will be joined by Markus Kolland from Airbus Defence and Space, Johann Skwara from the Bavarian police, Helge Krysiak from Nokia, and Richard Georgi from Digitalfunk BOS Hessen, with TCCA board member Jeppe Jepsen moderating.
“The most important message of my presentation is ‘that it can be done’: a nationwide TETRA-based network can be set up and successfully managed to the contentment of its users,” offers Held. “The technology is mature and well-adapted to the requirements of public safety voice communication. Therefore – and this is the second message – the main challenges do not consist of technological questions, but of organisational issues such as capacity management, preparation for big events, optimisation measures, training of the users, and so on. A third message would be that the network is never finalized; it will stay work in progress.”
This year's CCW will hold panel discussions on topics such as TETRA for the transport sector, BDBOS digital network enhancing networks to improve event security, European spectrum harmonisation for PPDR broadband and implementing LTE
In the afternoon of June 2 TCCA board member Tony Gray will be the moderator for plenary session ‘Critical Communications – 20 Years from Now’, which will examine the juxtaposition of critical communications and emerging technologies.
“The critical communications community globally is already focused on 'what comes next' beyond the voice and low bandwidth data services we have come to rely on from technologies such as TETRA,” explains Gray. “Developments in standards for 4G LTE are the beginning of greatly increased bandwidth for broadband data services becoming a reality for critical users in the next few years.
“However, now we hear a buzz about the next generations of connectivity – 5G and beyond – as well as about smart cities/homes/buildings, connected cars, Internet of Things and so on. What do all these and other 'crystal ball' future gazing concepts mean for critical communications in the future?”
Speakers taking part in the morning plenary session starting at 11.25am and moderated by Gray include MIT Senseable City’s Erin Baumgartner, who will discuss real-time city projects taking place, and examining how forward thinking can be applied to harness data from sensors and electronics.
Motorola Solutions chief strategy and innovation officer Eduardo Conrado will also be present and will dissect the flood of data and hardware and software compatibility for police officers.
Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group executive director Lance Valcour will look at how far artificial intelligence can be relied on before it becomes an intrusion.
The final talk will be from Ericsson Business Unit Radio head of marketing and communications Sebastian Tolstoy, who will cover the evolution of radio networks to 5G, placing emphasis on the new needs of public safety stakeholders and opportunities to leverage the global scale of the technology in public safety following the establishment of LTE as a global communication standard for voice, mobile broadband and the Internet of Things.
“How might next generations of connectivity contribute to continuing transformation in ways of working?” Gray offers as a key question defining the debate and enthusiastic about the session’s salient areas of debate, adding: “How can the promised tsunami of data be made understandable, useful and actionable? How should we be thinking ahead towards use of the likes of advanced analytics, location based services, artificial intelligence in a future critical communications world? In short, how might we utilise ubiquitous, high volume, always connected and all connected data services to advance the safety, security and wellbeing of communities and society as a whole?”
Questions around the applications of existing and new technology will colour discussions on cyber security, case studies and control rooms, while harnessing the ability to absorb and process data and act with agility to drive the efficacy of mission critical end users will be the focus of new products. With debates surrounding critical communications in an era of data, applications and emerging technologies the key subject, this year’s three-day Critical Communications World looks poised to be both the biggest and the most forward-looking to date.
If you’re interested in attending Critical Communications World 2016, click here for CCW registration options.