2022 Thought Leaders: Tim Evans
Tim Evans is Regional Sales Manager for Asia Pacific, Cradlepoint
What opportunities do you predict for the growth of your industry in 2023?
We expect that wireless or cellular connectivity will continue to grow in emergency services, with a surge in adoption of the next generation of cellular connectivity — 5G. More and more, emergency services vehicles (police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, even drones) will require connectivity and will also carry IoT devices such as sensors, cameras, digital displays and smart devices (connected fire hoses, motion-sensing oxygen masks and more). All of these applications of IoT will need reliable, always-on connectivity to function. So as the complexity and capability of the technology used by emergency services advances, so will the need for more robust, high-bandwidth, low-latency wireless connectivity that 5G offers.
As the number of connected onboard technologies continues to rise, IT and fleet management teams often don’t have time for one-off or in-person troubleshooting. Centralised, cloud-based access to online dashboards and the ability to make network adjustments from anywhere will be key to these lean IT organisations managing thousands of connected devices across hundreds of vehicles.
How are you making your company more resilient to ongoing global supply chain issues?
Cradlepoint has been able to continue to meet SLAs in terms of handling its supply chain throughout the pandemic and it has been one of the company’s competitive differentiators. Being a software-based company means that what we sell is solutions-based and not tied to a single piece of hardware — which allows for agile hardware deployments when needed. Our subscription-based business prohibits inventory consumption without activation, which enables teams to stay aligned with specific rollout/installation schedules and further increases the efficiency of the inventory that we have.
Following the extreme weather events of 2022, how can critical communications be better deployed to manage similar events in future?
Of course, speed is of the essence in any emergency situation. While emergency response personnel are trained to act quickly, advances in technology can help support critical communications in times of crisis. Wireless connectivity between emergency vehicles and base locations can help with management of resources and dispatch, as well as better real-time route planning as weather events change road conditions. Also, setting up pop-up connectivity at temporary shelter areas — whether from an emergency vehicle or onsite — can mean instant connectivity for evacuated citizens with loved ones and real-time processing of citizen details at disaster relief locations. Better connectivity of course also means better alert systems can be put in place when weather conditions change quickly.
Are there any new or growing sectors that will be particularly reliant on critical communications in 2023 and beyond?
While there is still some way to go before the use of drones becomes common practice in emergency services, as regulations around unmanned drone flights are still highly restricted in Australia, one attribute of drones which makes them such an asset in natural disaster management is their ability to send data in real time. Regulatory restrictions aside, today 5G cellular networks can provide the required wireless connectivity to enable capturing real-time video, sharing data instantly from long ranges and enabling drones to fly beyond visual line of site (BVLOS). Globally, drone use is becoming more widespread across industries, executing tasks like delivering crucial medicine to hard-to-reach places, finding missing persons, and wildfire identification and prevention.
What are the biggest challenges or threats facing your industry in 2023?
Overseas trials show that utilising the bandwidth and reliability of 5G and LTE cellular networks ensures that drones operate as expected using avoidance sensor information and location tracking while delivering tactical data in real time, critical in making quick decisions needed in situations like bushfires or floods. By utilising the latest drone technology, combined with the flexible, secure and powerful cellular routers that make the most of 4G and 5G networks, the future of natural disaster management and emergency services is set to be revolutionised. It will enable responders to share information between themselves and other emergency departments seamlessly, supporting a smooth response to any situation.
What’s on your wish list from governments, innovators and the wider industry in 2023?
One challenge with today’s in-vehicle connectivity operating in a 5G-enabled environment is that when 5G signals go from an antenna on the roof of a car, down through the cables into the router in the truck, signals lose reception and attenuation. Frequent connection drop-offs make real-time data sharing impossible, which can be disastrous for many applications. These include the transmission of digital sensor feeds with remote ER staff, GPS data for auto vehicle location (AVL) systems and traffic signal priority (TSP) systems. By putting the routers on the roof, you solve many of these issues. We see the growth of more complex technology such as higher performance IoT being used in emergency services and the growing availability of 5G network connectivity as driving demand for new edge devices that meet the evolving needs of the industry. On our wish list for government is greater support (including moving along regulatory hurdles) and incentives for industries, including emergency services, to trial 5G connectivity and develop use cases that can be replicated within and across various public and private industries.
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