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Home Opinion Rock solid in a changing world

Rock solid in a changing world

by uma
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As industries everywhere become more reliant on automation, IoT, machine-learning, AI and of course everything ‘as a service’, are we as future-proof as we think?  In a world where technology is changing faster than ever before, on and off the planet, we need to be sure to build the foundations of our own technology on rock solid foundations.

Here, David Savage, founder and CEO of Excelerate Technology – integrated technology and connectivity providers to diverse sectors from first responders to government agencies, utilities and critical national infrastructure – talks through the case for the R Word. Resilience.

Fear, uncertainty and doubt – or ‘FUD’ as it’s sometimes known – creeps in when one least expects it.  For that reason, I’ve always maintained that one should have as many plan Bs as possible. Be spoilt for choice, not scrabbling about when time or circumstances are already against you.

Today, we rely so much upon technology in our daily lives, not least in business and public services, but what we often don’t pay enough attention to sometimes is what to do when things go wrong.
For us at Excelerate Technology, we could quite reasonably be described as being in the ‘connectivity’ business, and we are of course. Connectivity lies at the heart of all our solutions, be it hardware, vehicles, or software.  A first responder video camera at an incident is pointless if the streaming connection isn’t there to supply it to a command vehicle, or to wherever it needs to go. Delivering a solution that can cope with things not working as they should is non-negotiable in the case of the organisations we serve. Dig deeper therefore and connectivity on its own is not the end of it.

What our customers ultimately want is a solution to the challenge they are facing, something working through problems outside our control, whether it’s a terrestrial network suddenly being unavailable or being in the middle of nowhere beyond the infrastructure we all take for granted. In my world, success is most often measured in terms of resilience. This can be a challenge when the world around us seems to be changing on a penny.

Resilience is the watchword

Low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, such as the 3,000 or so that Starlink has put into constellation, for example, is undoubtedly a fantastic move forward for global connectivity, for businesses and consumers alike. What’s not so clear right now, however, is just how resilient they are, or where the data is travelling to and from. Is it landed in the UK, and how robust are they in countering cyber threats?

Such pace of technological advancement means that some customers may make uninformed decisions based on misunderstandings or misinformation, particularly those who are not so tech aware. This may not be too much of an issue for the general public, but where resilience is the watchword, for mission critical communications, a greater understanding into the security and network is required to ensure complete system and data integrity.  Furthermore, I would advise that all companies, especially public sector and Government, work with a technology-agnostic service supplier to ensure resilience and interoperability is part of the conversation, for both cyber security and of course, for guaranteed connectivity so minutes aren’t lost when seconds matter.

Futureproof your communications

As our reliance on digital and cloud-based services evolve, the importance of delivering a seamless uninterruptible service increases exponentially. This can only be achieved with an integrated, hybrid technology and connectivity approach. Ensuring future-proofed security, system integrity and 100% operational continuum is an absolute must nowadays. Imagine therefore what this means for first responders and emergency services personnel who may be deployed literally anywhere on the planet, where mission critical connectivity is essential to protecting and saving lives.

When my company entered this market, more than two decades ago now, it was sometimes difficult to convince customers of the importance of robust and ubiquitous connectivity. Back then, only 3% of the UK had access to broadband and there weren’t enough practical applications to drive interest. Today, however, zero outage is a perquisite, as I’ve just described, and yet even with the introduction of LEO on such a grand scale, thinking through issues of futureproofing is no less important. Indeed, with ever greater complexity of threats on and offline, the stakes are even higher.

Bonding connectivity (4G, 5G, satellite, WAN, LTE, LAN and WiFi) is the holy grail today, but it’s not straightforward to achieve, so we advise anyone looking at options to ensure they can communicate from any location, at any time, to ask themselves this one question; Is what I’m buying fit for purpose now, and for how long?

But there are other questions to ask, besides. Is the technology agnostic enough – independent of operating software or third-party service provider protocols and charging models – such that you can break off and use new network technologies or bearers. Likewise, is its integration seamless and easy to use, so colleagues are connected with each other and the technology around them, instantaneously, or at least with just the touch of a button on a user interface.  While none of us want a ‘black swan event’, which are impossible to predict but can have a huge impact, it’s vital we keep pace with evolving threats and insure against them.

I’ve said it many times, that telemedicine has come on strides this past 20 years, and I have no doubt that it not only helps people to connect, say, with their GP should travel be difficult, but that it has also saved lives. However, technology, such as live video streaming, is only any good if it has failsafe connectivity and interoperability underpinning it.

This is even more prevalent now with projects such as the Hybrid Connex Digital Ambulance of the Future, a technology initiative partnering with the NHS to bring a resilient connectivity solution to the UK ambulance sector. This solution combines 4G, 5G, and satellite, ensuring that ambulance crews are never without a connection, to significantly improve patient experiences while transforming a large part of the way ambulance services deliver ‘see and treat’ care.

It is absolutely possible for the current healthcare problems to be alleviated by introducing a lot of these new services and solutions to reduce the number of patients needing to go to hospital in the first place.

Furthermore, wider industry is utilising ubiquitous connectivity for streamlined operations, efficiencies and safety. The military and first responders are deploying such technology for situational awareness so commanders can make swift decisions, and the oil & gas sector too for multiple applications, such as delivering sub-sea data back to shore and remote monitoring and management of nuclear sites to support both operations and emergency preparedness. The limitations are endless, but all reliant, again, on one thing – resilience.

Being technology and network agnostic is crucial to our approach. It means that, once we understand our customers’ needs, we can help them achieve their goals with the highest level of success and we can clearly explain why we make our recommendations and can demonstrate the efficiencies and cost-effectiveness over the lifespan of the solution, which may not be immediately apparent to those unfamiliar with the technology.

Whilst widespread now, satellite technology is still evolving, and its transformation will only enhance public safety and healthcare, industry and consumer. But to do so, there needs to be a much greater understanding of the different network offerings to ensure that the right technology is used for the right application, whether that’s for making consumers more informed and connected, or for resilient mobile deployment in the worlds in which we operate.