Interview: Steve Newell, GME
Which technologies or innovations do you think will be game changers or reach maturity in 2019?
There are many different technologies competing for government attention in the business- and mission-critical communications space at the moment. But not all of them are truly mission-critical. We feel that even though consumer-grade mobile devices have a role to play, traditional technologies are still the best bet for providing reliable, robust and dependable communications for public sector workforces. That’s one of the primary reasons we’ve entered the P25 communications market. P25 is the standard used nationwide and across the world by emergency services. It’s a digital technology that gives you the same sort of mission-critical capability and benefits that the police, fire and ambulance services enjoy.
Another consideration is maintaining staff safety, which should be of prime concern for all organisations, including government. There are many technologies available to ensure worker safety, but one that is often overlooked is the personal locater beacon (PLB), which is a tried and true technology that works anywhere on the face of the Earth — you don’t need to be within range of government radio or commercial carrier networks. This is an important factor to consider, given the mandatory lone-worker regulation requirements.
How are AI, IoT and cyber threats changing your industry sector, and what is your business doing to move with the changes?
We’re going to be heavily focused on the telemetry and data space over the next couple of years. The market for these technologies is exploding, and we see it changing the way governments of all sizes operate — by gathering more and better data (both encrypted and non-encrypted) to analyse and make better decisions for citizens. The IoT and data sensors will be game changers for making things happen for local councils, shopping precincts, sports facilities, infrastructure operators (eg, tunnels, roads, pipelines) — anywhere where data needs to be collected and systems monitored.
Our customers are also very interested in the potential inherent in the 4G LTE communications standard. GME has a high recognition of the up-and-coming capabilities of LTE for mission-critical applications.
How important is education and training for ICT professionals during times of rapid digital transformation, and what initiatives need improving on this front?
There’s a big need for more skilled cybersecurity staff in the ICT world, particularly with IT and communications crossing over so heavily these days. GME has been a fairly big hirer of people in recent times, and we’re very cognisant of the crossover between communications and IT. That influences our roadmap of products as well, by bringing in that talent. With recognition of where the market is going, it’s a natural reaction of us to bring those sorts of people aboard.
We sometimes feel that governments and educational institutions are going more in the direction of university and the higher technology software side. But in the communications side, it’s always been driven through TAFE-level training and apprenticeships. For this sector, it definitely feels as if governments have been pushing too hard at the university-level education and not enough at the vocational level. Communications people are hard to find these days.
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