Mission Critical Technologies 2018

KNect365's inaugural Mission Critical Technologies (MCT) conference and exhibition debuts at ExCel London on June 13. In a springtime filled with important public safety communications conferences, MCT 2018 stands out by tackling a broad set of technology topics enabled by advances in fixed and mobile communications. By eschewing the communications-centric focus offered by many of this year's leading events, MCT 2018 provides an important platform to explore promising innovations enabled by a robust foundation of mission-critical communications networks. As the date for MCT 2018 draws near, we are taking this opportunity to explore what makes this conference such an essential waypoint for mission-critical professionals.

Mission-Critical Sector Moves towards Innovation

Remarkable advances in fixed and mobile communications transformed the corporate workplace. High fiber speed links now enable new cloud-based service platforms that free enterprises from the constraints posed by in-house server racks filled with aging software. As applications and data moved into the cloud, corporations seized the opportunity to reinvent the workplace with an eye towards agility and efficiencies. Likewise, advances in mobile broadband performance expanded these benefits beyond the cubicle, empowering mobile field forces spanning the globe.

For the most part, however, advances benefiting enterprises with mission-critical requirements did not keep pace. Police, fire and emergency medical services organizations must, by nature, move with deliberation to accommodate a host of legal and ethical constraints. But as networks and cloud services mature, many of these constraints have lifted as network and cloud service operators addressed barriers facing mission-critical enterprises.

At the same time, new creativity is emerging thanks to growing governmental agency interest in reduced costs and increased operational effectiveness. The United States, for example, incorporated $300 million R&D funding as part of the legislation that created FirstNet. In Finland, energetic programs leverage the nation's deep technology roots to modernize control room and field applications. And in Asia, showcase Olympics events in 2018 and 2020 create additional drivers for innovation. 

Pioneer Efforts

Against this backdrop, MCT 2018 enters the picture with a comprehensive program that explores the broad strokes of pioneering innovation now in play. Microsoft starts the plenary sessions organized around a theme of pioneering efforts with a reflection on what the future will look like four years from now. A significant cloud player thanks to its Azure platform, Microsoft has made a strategic thrust into the public sector sector and now plays a major role in cutting-edge public sector technologies. 

Another helpful perspective of the future comes from the influential U.K. Police ICT Company, a unique venture owned by a collection of police and crime commissioners from around the country and the Home Office. The Police ICT Company will address the impact technology investment has on the law enforcement work culture and mission execution. Other plenary sessions include a take on the network perspective with Nokia, the future of video surveillance with IHS Markit and a look at national approaches towards fire service information management from Hampshire Fire Service. 

Innovation: Front-end to Back-end

With the MCT 2018 plenary sessions addressing the broader picture, a set of parallel tracks helps round out the program by focusing on promising innovation aimed at frontend and backend public safety technology. In this context, frontend innovation delivers advancements to police, fire and emergency medical services teams. On the front-end innovation, the MCT 2018 program is divided into two topics: wearable technology and unmanned vehicles. 

The look at advancements in wearable technology includes an informative blend of commentary from companies at the forefront of public safety device innovation as well European and U.S. agencies at the tip-of-the-sword. For device innovation, speakers from Axon, a leading supplier of body cameras and digital evidence management systems, as well as Samsung Electronics, will reflect on the connected police officer. End-user and public safety agency views come from the Dutch National Police, the U.K. Home Office, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue and the Los Angeles Police.

Interest in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) continues to grow around the globe. The MCT 2018 front-end innovation program taps into this critical topic by offering perspectives from agencies leading the way.  Topical presentations from the U.K. National CBRN Centre, the City of Seattle, ENLETS and the UK Department for Digital, Culture,
Media & Sport (DCMS) explore both the benefits of drones as well as tough challenges facing agencies. This reflections on UAV challenge give attendees an opportunity to hear about the need for UAV countermeasures, dealing public perception hurdles and considerations around the potential of drones to replace humans during public safety response. 

As with front-end innovation topics, the back-end topics are clustered into two sub-streams: command & control and communications networks. Next generation 1-1-2/9-9-9 programs help spur the transformation of control room technology as well as field command operations. Microsoft will deliver an examination of what this digital transformation and the ensuing disruption means for public safety agencies. Agency views on the future of command and control will come from the London Metropolitan Police and the Paris Fire Brigade. Part of this transformation, of course, must include considerations for the opportunities and challenges presented by social media. The Dubai Police Service will examine the role of social media analytics and how these processes can keep the public safe while helping change the public's relationship with the emergency services. Additionally, for the ultimate end-user perspective, Bernard Rix, the CEO of The Policing Insight will raise the potentially uncomfortable subject of "what does policing really think of its ICT?" Mr. Rix brings a point-of-view informed by his leadership establishing the CoPaCC, an organization monitoring and assisting policing governance in England and Wales. 

To be sure, communications networks are a foundational element that makes most, if not all, of these advances possible, The bank-end innovation topic includes a panel discussion on 4G/5G potential by a diverse set of experts that include ETSI CTO Adrian Scrase along with representatives from the U.K. Home Office, Calgary Police and Nokia. Topical individual presentations will include EE's views on the private or shared LTE networks, Calgary Police experience with pop-up networks, CritComm Insights' reflections on considerations for in-building coverage and an update from David Lund on the pan-European BROADMAP program. An especially interesting presentation from Air France will highlight recent trials leveraging ground-breaking French efforts to make licensed private LTE successful. 

Spotlighting Mission Impact

MCT 2018 comes at a time of profound change made possible by advances in mission-critical networking technology. Government officials wrestling with the potential and pitfalls that accompany this change will find essential opportunities to hear from peers as well as industry innovators. To be sure, MCT 2018 benefits by rising above the network-focused topics to incorporate deep-dives into the operational impact on the front line. Program curators ensured a speaker roster heavily weighted towards pioneering government agency officials who are driving progress today, helping ensure attendees hear from authoritative voices with real experience navigating change. As a media partner for the event, CritComm Insights is looking forward to hearing from these visionaries and passing on the top takeaways following the conference. But nothing beats the opportunity to hear from the experts directly. Make your plans now to head to the ExCel London for a compelling and carefully curated two-day mission-critical technology agenda. Your time will be amply rewarded.