You are in:
Iain Ivory, Senior Marketing Solutions Manager, Enterprise Mobility Solutions, Motorola (EMEA), talks to BAPCO Journal's Jose Sanchez on WAP developments for the emergency service community.
Why talk about WAP now?
There is a lot of activity at the moment within the TETRA space and user space in terms of how data can benefit the end users, whether public safety or non-public safety, but the public safety market is the biggest. We've just released our latest subscriber software and it contains a lot of new data functionality, one of the key being the addition of WAP Push.A lot of capability at the moment is delivered on WAP, but so far it relies on users pulling information to their hardware, in response to an incident. WAP Push reverses this, whereby instead of relying on people to pull the information, it is “pushed” onto them instead.
Can you provide some examples?
There is a lot of talk within the user community on improving efficiency and cutting down on paper work, and there are some big projects looking at national deployments. However, there is a ground swell with smaller groups adopting simple applications and getting a lot out of them. A good example of this is stop and search.Traditionally officers stop a suspect and gather the information on to their notepads, and then they input that information at the station. The capability is on the TETRA handset to gather that information and report it from the point where the SAS was done. There are two ways of gathering the information in this way. Either using embedded forms in the radio, or via a WAP-based form. Based on discussions, users often don't appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of each methodology.Going back a number of years, the NPIA – or PITO as it was then – came up with a common methodology for doing PNC checks using a TETRA handsetand they looked at a couple of solutions, one using standard TETRA SDS and another WAP based.The benefit of the SDS based forms was that almost all TETRA radios could support them – but they had a number of downsides. The first was usability – users needed to remember the correct syntax of the query and entering this often took longer than it did to make a voice call!. Motorola and other suppliers created embedded applications to try and make this easier – but this highlights the other problem with SDS forms in that they are embedded in the radio - so if you make a change to the syntax of the query, or want to add a new application then all the handsets have to be reporgammed. With WAP however, the updating of forms and templates is undertaken on a central server, which is why there is a move towards server-based applications.
That sounds simple enough
Yes – and the other aspect of a WAP, or server based solution is that it almost forces users to face the next problem, which is what you do with the information that has been gathered. How do you process the data and integrate it into existing processes? With simple SDS applications such as Stop and Search it is easy to generate the info – but unless there is something in the back office gathering and processing the info, the whole exercise may be pointless. With WAP , the information gathering step is by necessity developed at the same time as the processing side. You have to develop the server, the processing solution and the links to existing databases at the same time. In our view WAP based solutions, or server based solutions, are the way forward in making improvements in the processes and accountability and efficiencies in people within public safety.
What is the barrier to the acceptance of technology like this?
In the widest sense, it is natural resistance to changing processes. One of the lessons learned is that if the technology does not work in an efficient way it won't be adopted. Unless there is a tangible benefit in making data entry through handsets there will always be a resistance. And that is why the focus has to be on tailored applications for specific users. Stop and search is a good example of that, and it's about how do we get the user community engaged to show them what WAP can enable people to do.
Are you looking for an end user “champion”?
We are fortunate that we have a number of senior users who say they want to do it but there are back-office challenges. We have a number of users around the world with fully deployed WAP based solutions and are running a number of trials, but there is always scope for more. The opportunity is for wider adoption of solutions such as Stop and Search.
Motorola is a global company – have similar solutions been adopted elsewhere?
We have customers with a number of applications across Europe – using both WAP and SDS based services. In Denmark for example, security officers on trains have WAP access to national databases to check identities when issuing fixed penalties. In Norway, we have worked with users to develop “Call Out” , which we demonstrated in London in 2009. This application allows a dispatcher to send out a message to a number of users – in this case volunteer fire officers – and lets them send back a response indicating if they can attend or not. So rather than just being a way of calling out volunteers, it can be used on an ongoing operation basis to give out and gather information, in a command and control environment.
So is the future WAP-shaped?
We see two fundamental types of application, embedded like SDS, and WAP. One of the advantages of SDS – or an embedded application – is that it responds much faster. With WAP you have to launch a browser, while Call Out is an embedded application which gives you immediacy of response.We are seeing a mixture of capabilities which are evolving and which the user community are starting to define. In Germany, there are a number of embedded SDS messaging applications specific to how they police operate. In the UK, we have the IMAGIN solution that was initiated by Northern Constabulary, and which is now being deployed in Hampshire as well. This application gives police the ability to access images whilst they are on the street, from any data source in the constabulary. That is an example of a data application being embraced by users to develop a solution.Whichever way this happens, there is a growing movement towards data application over TETRA, as opposed to just voice.