This year’s BAPCO show, held in London on 20-22 April, welcomed fewer visitors than in previous years. However, those that made it were treated to a comprehensive array of technology and solutions from the exhibitors
In spite of the lower footfall at this year’s show, BAPCO remains an important event in the UK’s public safety technology calendar.
‘Traffic has been steady and there is certainly less of it than last year,’ said Simon Orbell, director of Syntech Systems. ‘But it’s still a very good place to reinforce the networks you have and is well worth doing.’
Orbell was keen to emphasise the cost saving benefits provided by Syntech’s performance and measurement analysing solution for the emergency services. The company’s products analyse switch data and report at the end of the month to enable optimisation and report on incidents. In addition, they can be used to model the effects of changes to the network.
‘For example, if a user wants to know whether they’d save money
by combining two talk groups into one, the only way to work that out is by modelling and trial,’ Orbell said. ‘The outcome is not always
the expected one. You may save money by cutting down the number of talk groups but the savings made may be outweighed by additional costs in the combined group and the costs of organisational changes associated with it.’
Mohammed Rafiq, marketing manager at Airwave, also felt the show was less busy. ‘The show is much quieter than previous years,’ he said. ‘There are not as many people, which is a bit disappointing but not entirely unexpected.’
Airwave was promoting its new Fusion mobile data solution for police forces, which integrates the front end and the back office.
‘Fusion is very much a mobile data solution,’ said Rafiq. ‘The front end devices and applications need to integrate with the back end more effectively. Police are now beginning to realise that for them to have any possibility to have significant cashable savings they have to address the back end.’
The wider availability of wireless connections and the greater capabilities of wireless devices have resulted in a proliferation of applications.
However, not enough is being done to develop applications with real world usage in mind, according to network emulation and application performance management software provider, iTrinegy, which was demonstrating its products at the show. Those range in capability from sub-£1,000 tools for single developers up to large departmental solutions that are in deployment at organisations such as the Ministry of Defence, the US Army and the UK’s Home Office.
‘People’s standard approach to writing applications is to use a developer in a room sitting at a PC running an emulator of the device they’re developing for,’ explained Frank Puranik, product director at iTrinegy. ‘Typically, there’s a LAN between the PC and the server and, in development terms, that’s where it goes wrong. Real circuits are low in bandwidth and high in latency but development is done in exactly the opposite environment.’
Steve Clarke, MD of PMR Products, was also at the show demonstrating the SafetyNet Digital radio management software platform. The product is in deployment at the St David’s Centre scheme in Cardiff city centre. PMR Products also demonstrated its new application for enabling users to access a WAP based website of images. This could be used to track repeat offenders such as shoplifters or drug dealers within a shopping centre and enable street wardens to easily identify potential threats.
Excelerate, a provider of video, voice, data and internet over satellite and wireless on-board specialist vehicles, had three key products at the show. It was demonstrating a new vehicle that has been built for Gwent Police specifically to address the Ryder Cup golf tournament to be held in the region this year. That vehicle features satellite, 3G wireless aerials and Wi-Fi for officers with PDAs. The company also demonstrated a new HART (Hazardous Area Response Team) vehicle.
‘HART finance is a resource that is protected for the next three years,’ explained company CEO David Savage. ‘We’re in such a sensitive area of blue lights with the Olympics coming up and there is a lot of work to be done to prepare the country. It’s politically too sensitive to render the emergency services useless in the event of a disaster.’
Mark Thomas, strategic marketing director of Team Simoco, was keen to discuss TETRA data usage at the show. ‘What we’ve got here is a TETRA data compression product used by Airwave to enable GPRS speeds over a simple TETRA service,’ he said. ‘TETRA data is very much evolving, everyone is talking about it but few are doing it. We’re saying buy our TETRA system and you’re covered.’
Steve McCart, sales and service director at RTS, had several products on display. The company’s Maskot GPS Microphone is a splash resistant speaker microphone that connects to most two-way radios to provide enhanced situational awareness. Its development was spurred on by the challenges emergency workers faced during Australian bush fires.
Users in the field can send or receive text messages and waypoints and get up to the minute positions of their entire team, all viewable on the backlit LCD screen. The microphone is also a GPS tracker allowing the user to mark waypoints for other users to follow, send waypoints to other users or the base station or request another user’s locations and set a course to that unit.
Of course, having a vast array of high cost, fully-featured wireless devices means they need to be protected. SystemsLink Two, a manufacturer of standard and bespoke cases for mobile data products was demonstrating its range of carrying solutions for data capture, mobile computing and printing products.
With some mobile devices costing thousands of pounds anything that can be done to protect them from damage and carry them securely and comfortably is important. The company offers a prototyping service that is normally free of charge and is currently providing such services to the police market with products suitable for frontline officers, specialist teams and management applications. All cases can include a ‘Click-Fix’ stud for attaching the mobile device to a Home Office approved belt or uniform dock.
Further protection for costly mobile devices and terminals is available from Traka. The company showcased its range of modular intelligent electronic lockers designed to meet the need for increased flexibility, resulting from an ever increasing and diverse range of client requirements.
Intelligent lockers can be used to manage a range of assets such as security radios, data terminals, laptops, attack alarms, security and medical equipment and have been supplied to organisations such as airports, hospitals, colleges, retail stores, distribution and logistics centres, police and government agencies.
Equipment can be RFID controlled, so each asset is effectively tagged, and can be identified as ‘in or out’ of the system, and by whom. A full audit of equipment usage is maintained, which when combined with features such as setting a ‘due back time’; recalibration intervals; licence expiry, fault logging and advanced booking, it provides a very effective way to control the access to and the traceabilit