BAPCO 2021 speaker interview: international perspective


NENA director of technology, Brandon Abley, discusses the evolution emergency services contact centre technology.

NENA director of technology, Brandon Abley
NENA director of technology, Brandon Abley
Can you describe what you’ll be talking about during your presentation at BAPCO 2021. Why is it an important topic?

I will be speaking about the transcontinental plugtests held jointly between ETSI and NENA in early 2021. This landmark event demonstrated interoperability for NG911 and NG112 implementations across North America and Europe, including mutual authentication and security within the identity framework promulgated for emergency calling standards.

What do you see as being the big issues and challenges for the sector over the next five years?  

An emergency call transits across multiple domains. That is, from the handset to the carrier network, then to the 911 system, the answering point/control centre, and ultimately out to the field. All of these domains are under different controls and different regulatory environments, with countries/states/provinces/localities all handling things differently.

While we are making great strides in emergency calling in each domain, the biggest challenge going forward will be coalescing all of these advancements into a harmonious emergency calling environment.

What will be the most transformative development over the next five years in terms of the technology? What will that mean for user operations, as well as the broader market?

In North America, decommissioning of the legacy, circuit-switched, telephony-based emergency calling system will present a sea change in emergency calling.

In many ways our ability to serve the public is badly hobbled by ageing, obsolete aspects of our emergency calling systems that do not provide the same level of technology that even basic smartphone applications do. This is just not an acceptable environment for anyone, and I’m pleased to see recent massive strides forward in North America.

What opportunities do you see for the sector in the current environment? What big changes would you like to see in the world of public safety communications? 

Having a more international perspective when it comes to emergency calling would benefit first responders and the public they serve tremendously. [Through that] we can all gain knowledge and establish a broader economy of scale by creating a more global market. In turn, this will also provide a better economic environment for our vendor partners.

What key messages or take-home points would you like people to get from your session? What will be most useful to them from a practical point of view?

The most important takeaway is the concept of a global environment for emergency calling. In North America we are siloed badly enough across different jurisdictions, much less the rest of the world. From operational procedures to incident handling and the technologies used, our community can only benefit from having a broader viewpoint. 

Which BAPCO 2021 conference sessions are you most looking forward to seeing?

Having a background in wireless networks for first responders, I am most interested in learning more about the Emergency Services Network.

Register and join us at BAPCO 2021.

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Philip Mason
Managing Editor, Critical Communications Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0)20 3874 9216