The 26th BAPCO Annual Conference and Exhibition took place at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. The 2019 event was co-located with TCCA’s Critical Communications Europe, which enabled even more topics to be covered to a wider European audience.
A primary focus was the roll-out of major public safety networks themselves, most importantly the Emergency Service Network (ESN), a great deal of new discussion around how the technology is likely to be used.
Acting CEO of FirstNet, Ed Parkinson, kicked off day one, he discussed ‘global co-operation and co-ordination for public safety wireless programmes,’ giving an overview of the current adoption of FirstNet across the US, with the network having been up and running for around nine months.
Jason Karp started his presentation on the ‘smart connected ambulance’ by describing its benefits in relation to a hypothetical multi-vehicle accident scenario. These included the ability to live stream bodyworn video footage from the scene, instant access to medical details via the scanning of the patient’s driver’s licence and Bluetooth-connected stethoscopes allowing multiple parties to listen to their heartbeat. Karp stated, “I predict 100 per cent LTE adoption by public safety within 18 to 24 months.”
The start of day two began with its own keynote session, from ESN Programme Director Bryan Clark on the theme ‘2019: the year vision becomes reality’. The theatre was packed as he reiterated the reason for the roll-out of ESN in the first place, focusing on the benefits it will bring to emergency services personnel.
Karp’s presentation from day one was further expanded on day two by co-founder of The Public Safety Network (and former president of FirstNet), TJ Kennedy, in his presentation on ‘the Internet of Life Saving Things’. He stated: “I believe that we [public safety] need to change the model where we’re using older technology than most consumers and most enterprises. In the future – and I can’t predict what day that will be – when 6G and 7G arrive, public safety across the world should have access to those technologies.”
In addition to this, the Showcase Theatre provided an opportunity for visitors to gain advice from industry experts and suppliers about how certain products, services and resources could be used to enhance best practice in one’s organisation.
There was standing room only in the Showcase Theatre for Mike Isherwood, Managing Director from APD Communications Ltd who held a session on ‘managing demand in public safety control rooms.’ Isherwood emphasised how managing control room demand is one of the biggest operational challenges faced by the emergency services and dived into the challenges and opportunities it presents.
New for 2019, the Drone Zone became home to the live demonstrations from Keith Robinson, Managing Director at Airvis Ltd. A drone was linked up to the live BAPCO TV stream and footage was streamed on screens across the exhibition, across social media platforms and on dedicated channels.
Dr Pippa Malmgren, Co-Founder of H Robotics focussed on ‘the aerial revolution: the transition of toy drones to robotic tools’ in the Drone Zone. Malmgren highlighted how technology in this sector has rapidly developed and the impact of drones on public safety and how they assist in saving lives.
The show floor also featured the Networking Lounge, Connected Vehicles, Members’ Lounge and Press Lounge, as well as over 102 suppliers, charities and organisations keen to speak with visitors about their needs. The wide range of exhibitors demonstrated some of the most innovative and cutting-edge products, services and resources, with some even having exclusive on-stand show offers and competitions. Sponsors exhibiting included Motorola Solutions, Samsung, APD Communications Ltd, Ericsson, Frequentis and Hexagon, Tait Communications and 3tc Software.
Nick Ross, Head of Criminal Justice and Public Safety for Samsung said “BAPCO is the main event for us and we get all the right people in the room over two days and have the best conversations.”
Matt Govett, Managing Director of MA Exhibitions, said: “BAPCO 2019 has been an absolutely incredible event. We are delighted as the organisers to be able to work with BAPCO, putting on their biggest show to date, we have seen a record number of exhibitors, record number of visitors and increased amounts of content across all the streams. There is a great buzz around the show, loads of positivity and we’re really looking forward to how we can build on it going forward into next year.”
Ian Thompson, CEO of British APCO, said: “BAPCO 2019 was a very successful event with increased numbers of visitors leading to higher levels of participation and interaction both in the conference and with exhibitors. We continue to build the association and the event to help our members meet the challenges encountered daily in critical communications and public safety technology. Being at BAPCO 2020 helps you to do the same.”
BAPCO 2020 will take place at the Ricoh Arena, 10-11 March 2020.