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Consensus for Change: Technology Adoption in the APAC region

Enterprise IT News (EITN) caught up with Steven Crutchfield, Regional Vice-President Asia-Pacific at Motorola Solutions (S. CRUTCHFIELD) to find out more about the adoption of land mobile radio, license plate recognition, video technologies and the use of mobile technology in ensuring public safety, as well as attitudes towards such technology adoption in various countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

Steve Crutchfield

EITN: Your recent global research study, Consensus for Change, highlights why critical communication has become even more important since the global pandemic. This is especially the case in complex operating environments such as public safety and for rail network operators.

Does your company develop radio technology in the Asia Pacific region?

What are some examples of customers in the region who depend on this type of communication to deliver their services every day?

S. CRUTCHFIELD: The Asia Pacific region is widely recognised as a heartland for global innovation. The region has an incredibly strong engineering and software development skills and Motorola Solutions has taken advantage of that by operating its R&D facilities in Malaysia for more than four decades now. We develop advanced two-way radio solutions out of our facility in Penang as well as other next generation software and video technologies.

Many Motorola Solutions customers in the region use mission critical communications as the foundation for their organisational resilience and operation-wide collaboration and resilience. Among them are Taiwan High Speed Rail which uses instant and reliable radio technology based on the TETRA standard to deliver 130 rail services every day. Radio technology provides the fastest and most effective way to coordinate team-based work tasks and plays an essential role in keeping staff and passengers safe and services running smoothly.

The MRT rail organisations of Malaysia and Singapore are also big users of radio technology, as are police and emergency services throughout countries including Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.

While voice communication is the primary purpose for radio communication, these networks also provide valuable data.

One public safety agency in Taiwan found that our radio technology was particularly useful during COVID-19 lockdowns. It leveraged IOT data from its radio network to determine whether there had been physical security breaches at its remote sites when staff were visiting those facilities less frequently.

EITN: Two way radio may continue to meet the needs of many organisations but it’s a form of technology that’s been around for a long time. Are there any new innovations coming for two-way radio that will further evolve its capability?

S. CRUTCHFIELD: It’s true that radio is a well established technology but voice communication continues to evolve through innovation.

The reach of radio communication systems has been extended to users of smartphones and other devices through integration technologies such as mobile broadband. We are also providing solutions that keep radio users connected to their mission-critical communications via satellite links in the most rural and remote areas. This is particularly useful in markets like Australia during the bushfire season when first responders need constant lines of communication for safety and situational awareness. We are also seeing growing interest for this capability throughout Asia.

Radio communication devices too are becoming more advanced through integration with LTE chips and the development of new user interfaces to open up access to productivity enhancing applications.

EITN: Can you tell us a bit more about the emerging use of Automatic Number Plate technology by police agencies to assist with rapid border enforcement? What are some examples of how that is being used, especially in relation to keeping communities safe from COVID-19? Additionally, how do police agencies help to ensure data privacy with the use of these and other video technologies?

S. CRUTCHFIELD: We had been providing number plate recognition and in-car video technology for agencies including Victoria Police before COVID-19, but we have seen new use cases for the technology emerge through the pandemic.

Police agencies have been using high-resolution, cloud-based video technology to rapidly scan through thousands of vehicle number plates to identify dangerous and unauthorised drivers in real-time.

When it became necessary to protect the spread of COVID-19 at state borders, knowing whether a vehicle was from another state or unauthorised to enter an area became extremely important.

Even beyond the pandemic, number plate technology will continue to support road safety and the operational efficiency of public safety agencies.

Police agencies use this technology in ways that are fair and transparent. By capturing high quality video and audio recordings of interactions between police and the public, these solutions increase protection and accountability for interactions between police and the public.

 EITN: Mobile technology is helping to increase efficiency and safety for frontline officers and other critical workers. How are organisations using mobile apps in the APAC region and what difference is it making to how they deliver their services?

S. CRUTCHFIELD: Putting smart mobile technology in the hands of frontline workers can make a big difference by enhancing their situational awareness, safety and productivity.

Victoria Police and other police agencies in Asia use mobile tech to be fully informed in potentially dangerous situations – for example, knowing when to approach a suspect with caution.

Another benefit of mobile technology is increasing productivity by replacing hand written forms with electronic forms that can be quickly filled out on the scene.

Western Australia Police and Road Safety Minister, Paul Papalia, recently said that mobile technology used by the state’s police agency had made a big difference to issuing traffic infringement notices. Western Australia police once issued up to 180,000 handwritten traffic infringement notices per year, but now much of that work is done electronically via mobile devices.

This not only increases efficiency for frontline police officers, it gives them more time back to spend in the community where they can have a greater impact on enhancing safety.

EITN: What did you observe in the relationship between adoption of technology and its relationship to local cultures in different countries within the Asia-Pacific?

S. CRUTCHFIELD: Our global research study found that countries in the Asia Pacific region generally had the highest levels of support in the world for the use of technology to provide safety.

Citizens of Taiwan are well accustomed to the use of technology for safety. Having learned from the SARS outbreak of 2003, the Taiwanese government was quick to introduce technology to combat COVID-19. A significant majority, 71%, believe that emergency services have the right technology to collaborate effectively and deliver their services. People of Taiwan are also strong supporters of the use of video security technology to prevent crime.

Similarly, 78% of Malaysians said that advanced technologies, including video and data analytics, were required to address public safety challenges in the modern world. Singapore also embraces a strong safety culture with a very high 77% of Singaporeans believing that technology is necessary to make emergency services efficient.

Australians too are positive about the role of technology in providing safety, with 74% say it makes sense to use technology to predict safety risks.

Notwithstanding these high levels of support throughout the Asia Pacific, the study also highlights key cultural differences between countries.

Governments and public safety agencies in each country need to consider these local needs when planning to deploy technology for safety and take time to consult the public to address any concerns they may have.

EITN: More specifically, what were your personal reflections about public acceptance and attitudes towards technology-driven transformations throughout the Asia Pacific?

S. CRUTCHFIELD: For me, the research is a strong reminder that while the global pandemic amplified the need for safety technology, governments and businesses need to take into account that the public will not accept the deployment of technology unless they agree with the goals and objectives for using it.  A clear indicator of that in our citizen survey is that 75% of citizens around the world say they are only willing to trust the organizations that hold their data so long as they protect it and use it appropriately.

For us in the technology industry, I think the research also highlights why we need to support public safety agencies in navigating these challenges. We also need to stand behind the technologies we develop, ensuring they are designed and developed to be compliant, transparent and enable public safety agencies to build trust with communities they serve.