Skip to main content

Radio as a lifeline

Motorola police radio
(Image credit: Motorola)

What are the main challenges for public safety professionals today?

Between a global pandemic, ever-increasing volumes of data to manage, and the growing demand to do more with limited resources - the world has never been more complex for public safety agencies and first responders.

Siloed systems and devices that can’t communicate with each other then add to an already existing complexity. First responders need mission-critical technology that offers an intuitive experience. This allows them to respond effectively in the heat of the moment. Alongside this, public safety professionals need flexible tools that enable them to connect seamlessly with a broader range of technology solutions like smartphones or body-worn cameras. For those tasked with securing and protecting the safety of the public, working against threats that are growing in magnitude and sophistication, emergency services’ technology must rapidly evolve to meet modern standards.

How can technology help solve these challenges?

Technology has evolved and given professionals access to more information than ever before to help them, but that can in itself create a challenge. For the frontline, such as a responding police officer, a firefighter, or a paramedic, clear communication is vital.

Radio, therefore, remains at the core of mission-critical communications, as it has for so many years. In high-stress situations, where public safety professionals are at risk, their radio serves as their lifeline and insurance. It’s the piece of technology they use instinctively; a reliable communication tool for reaching other officers and the Control Centre when needed.

Why is the radio still so important for the frontline?

The radio remains vital for the frontline because in the heat of the moment and under pressure, nobody wants to be switching between devices, struggling to use touchscreens or trying to move information between applications. This could create a bottleneck, confusion and delays that can be the difference between saving lives, or a situation escalating out of control. That’s when the simplicity and intuitiveness of the radio really comes into play.

How do you ensure innovation within radios is useful for public safety organizations?

For us, it’s all about understanding the pressures and challenges of the frontline. This is why we work so closely with our customers to ensure the solutions that we develop are focused on what matters most to our customers. This way, we can ensure that the technology meets the needs of the user, and radio can continue to be the lifeline for public safety for generations to come.

We constantly strive to improve our devices, and ensure our radios are providing the best-in-class audio quality, a rugged and lightweight design and a simple and reliable user experience. Where the real innovation comes into play is when looking at how a radio device is connected with other equipment that officers are using, such as smartphones or body-worn video solutions, so that all of an officer’s technology is connected and collaborative.

So, how much can you innovate within a radio device and can you provide an example?

A new radio needs to balance the improvement of key features like audio, intuitive user interfaces, ruggedness and design plus new innovations which help front line officers to tackle today's challenges faster, like collaboration between other devices. We know that public safety professionals today are handling multiple devices simultaneously, and allowing for collaboration between devices means that the frontline can opt for the one that feels most natural and intuitive to use in any scenario.

Where do you see mission critical radio evolving in the next 10 years?

A key focus for us is definitely helping the frontline to do their vital role in a safer way, so that our technology can help make a difference by aiding people to perform at their best in critical situations. It all is about making things seamless, making them instinctive and making sure that the users out there can really focus on the task at hand, which can often be a critical situation. We want to make public safety safer. It is very much about “eyes up, hands free” approach and easing the use of multiple devices on the body. Right now, we are creating an ecosystem, whereby with simple interactions frontline workers can utilize their radio, smartphone, and their body-worn camera, alongside other additional accessories too.

A step towards this is the work going into the collaboration with the smartphone. It’s key to embrace the smartphone that is so heavily used out there by end user organizations. In fact, from some of our research we can see that in Europe and Asia, many frontline officers have agency-paid smartphones today. That is why it’s so important for us to embrace that, to collaborate with the smartphone and to make sure that we get the best of both worlds on the voice and the data front.

I think in the future we will be talking to our devices. We will not even have to touch, or physically interact and find keys or buttons anymore. I also think that artificial intelligence assistance will play a much bigger role than it is today. We will be able to give much more assistance to the frontline in the form of information like audio requested by themselves. For example, imagine an ID check of a personal or a license plate check. You could be able to speak that check into your technology ecosystem and get an answer back. You won’t necessarily have to be talking to a person, you will be talking to a database, but it will be very timely.

How do you design future-proof products?

Of course, safety remains the number one priority for mission-critical technology. It’s all about reliability, ease of use, and simple integration across frontline technologies. But in a fast-changing technology landscape, it’s critical to protect investment too. Public safety organizations need devices that are going to have longevity and be able to take advantage of new technologies as the officer’s other technology evolves or changes. By allowing for flexible collaboration, the frontline can use their radio in the way that suits them best.

Katja Millard, Senior Director of Devices, Motorola Solutions