CCW speaker interview: Barbara Held

The industry expert - and former TCCA Board member – discusses the potential impact of satellite technology on critical communications.

CCW 2021 will focus on how current critical communications solutions can be maintained and enhanced, while at the same time exploring what’s next. What needs to be ‘protected’, and what advances would you like to see in the field?

Critical communications technologies are ‘only’ a means facilitating efficient cooperation across PPDR forces. Therefore, technologies by themselves do not need to be ‘protected and enhanced’, but functionalities and services do. First responders need the most modern, state-of-the-art, technological support that society is able and willing to provide them.

What will be the big opportunities and challenges for the sector over the next five years?

Taking in account recent German experience, I believe that relief of natural - and human made - disasters and diseases will be the main challenge for PPDR. Furthermore, the proportion of cybercrime is rapidly increasing.

Critical communications can play a decisive role in the effort to face these problems, providing reliable, innovative and highly available technologies.

What will be the most transformative communications technology in the coming years, in your opinion? How is the market likely to develop because of that technology?

I believe that the next generation of satellite networks/mega constellations will transform PPDR communication, as well as the market and its stakeholders. Some big providers might lose importance, new players will dominate the field.

At the same time, I believe that AI is also going to be of paramount importance when it comes to critical communications. It will help PPDR to deal with the flood of diverse information that will be available to it.

Last but not least, 3D-printing will still hold some surprises for us on the production line.

What big changes would you like to see in the world of critical communications? What would make the sector more efficient and effective?

Big technological changes are already on their way, however, the sector is still dependent on the societies and institutions it serves. These provide its legal, organisational, and economic framework.

It is up to these actors and entities to develop a favourable environment for innovative, efficient and effective critical communications.

What key take home-points would you like people to get from your session?

What we’re seeing now are only the first steps of the space communication service for public safety. There is much more to come.

Which CCW conference sessions or masterclasses are you most looking forward to attending?

To be honest, the thing I am really looking forwards to is meeting my former and current colleagues in person again. But I will certainly attend masterclasses and sessions on future technologies.

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