ICCAs: “The hottest ticket in town”

TCCAs Robin Davis discusses why the International Critical Communications Awards are so important, and his hopes for next year’s ceremony in Dubai

Tor Helge Lyngstøl collects the Phil Kidner Award

Why are the ICCAs important to the global critical communications industry? How have they demonstrated that importance in recent years?

The most prestigious awards in the critical communications sector, the ICCAs were originally known as the TETRA Awards and have been running since 2012.

Renamed the ICCAs in 2016 to take into account the wider critical communications ecosystem, entry numbers have increased each year. The ICCAs shine a global spotlight on the companies that deliver real end user benefits, innovation and commitment to critical communications.

They also recognise the individuals behind these innovations, acknowledging the most influential personalities. This occurs through categories including TCCA’s Young Engineer of the Year and the Phil Kidner Outstanding Contribution to Critical Communications Award, named in honour of our late TCCA CEO.

What are the judges looking for from entrants? What are the criteria for success?

In the products and solutions categories, the judges will be looking for stand-out submissions that deliver real benefits. That show flair and true innovation, and provide evidence that the entry will in some way enhance the critical communications sector.

For individual submissions the judges look for demonstrable outstanding performance, and evidence of the individual’s commitment to critical communications.

It is important for entrants to spend enough time focusing on these key points, in order to help the judges score the award accordingly.

Can you talk me through the award categories. Why those specifically?

The categories are designed to reflect the various aspects of the critical communications value chain, together with awards for collaboration, social value, sustainability and outstanding contributions. Most are self-explanatory, but to pull out a few:

- Emerging Technology, Product or Solution (in development but not being used yet)

This could include new antennae technologies, mobile, handheld devices or other solutions. A product or solution that is a proof of concept or used in a trial is valid. However, if the product is being commercially marketed and sold then this is not an ‘emerging’ technology and should be entered into one of the other relevant categories.

- The Phil Kidner Award for an Individual Outstanding Contribution to Critical Communications

This will go to a person who can demonstrate an outstanding lifetime contribution to critical communications. Much work in our sector is done by people with commitment over and above their ‘day job’ and this is an opportunity to recognise that .

- TCCA Young Engineer of the Year

This award recognises outstanding contributions made by young engineers to critical communications. We are keen to encourage young talent into our sector.

- Government Authority Collaboration

This is an award for government authorities that have worked with others across geographical borders, and promoted the use of critical communications standards and solutions.

- Advances in Sustainability

This year all product/solution entries are encouraged to highlight how their product, solution or implementation has addressed the environmental challenges beyond their legal and statutory requirements. The tangible benefits need to be quantified.

Can you think of any previous winner - device or roll-out - which has gone on to be particularly impactful in the sector?

This isn’t an easy question to answer, as over the years there have been many great winners. Those entrants for me that specifically stand out include:

- TETRA services at CERN. The judges praised this as being “a uniquely challenging requirement of amazing complexity”.

- MTR Corporation - MTR 800 MHz TETRA System Project. One judge said of this: “The Hong Kong Metro’s TETRA project, ambitious in scale and scope, is full of superlatives. It truly shows what TETRA is capable of in a railway environment.”

- Best Use of Critical Communications for Public Safety from 2018. Norway and Sweden accomplish common cross-border radio communications.

- Best Use of Critical Communications for Public Safety winner in 2021 was the Biological Light Field Laboratory for Emergencies [B-LiFE] COVID-19 testing facility. This was set up in 2020 in Piedmont, Italy.

How does the event tie in with Critical Communications World?

The ICCAs presentation ceremony at Critical Communications World each year is the hottest ticket in town. It is regarded as the go-to event of the year, attended by government authorities, end users and suppliers. It gives people with incredibly demanding jobs a chance to relax and network with their peers.

How are the awards evolving, year on year? What are your hopes for this year's awards? 

The critical communications marketplace is steadily developing year on year, with critical broadband expanding the ecosystem and more end users adopting MCX technologies, whilst maintaining the use of reliable TETRA systems. More and more innovative use cases and impressive stories that demonstrate real end user benefits mean more entries are being submitted each year.

This year, we’re hoping for more entries demonstrating great critical communications use cases across the user communities.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our distinguished panel of independent judges, who give their time and expertise to complete a rigorous judging process.

The ICCAs ceremony will take place on May 14th 2024 in Dubai. More information on submitting applications can be found here.

The ceremony will be co-located with Critical Communications World (14th-16th May).