Andrew Forbes, Head of Middle East and North Africa region for Secure Land Communications at Airbus speaks with Safety & Security Middle East and discusses the various aspect of the business, and the trends that are influencing the Middle East region.
How would you describe Airbus Secure Land Communications (Airbus SLC) and how long has Airbus SLC been present in the Middle East?
Secure Land Communications (SLC) is an Airbus programme unit that offers Secure Communication solutions; such as, digital radio devices, applications and services based on Tetra, Tetrapol and Broadband technologies. Professionals in the fields of public safety, health, and transport, utility and industry (TUI) use its advanced mobile communication and collaboration solutions to gather, process and deploy intelligence. With a 30 year proven track record, SLC has been behind some of the most respected and important projects arising from the company’s commitment to technological innovations. Mission-critical communications market leader in Europe, SLC has been operating in the Middle East for more than 14 years, and is established in 16 countries with customers in over 80 countries around the world.
Has COVID-19 impacted your business, if yes, how and what steps have you taken to negate the effect of coronavirus?
Since, SLC’s core business is critical communications. Airbus has known from the start of this global health crisis the crucial role it has to play to support affected organizations across industries. Specifically, our communication solutions have been aiding our healthcare personnel, police forces and other front liners in performing their duties to protect public safety and fight COVID-19 amid the influx of patients and emergency cases. We have a team 24/7 on the ground to extend all forms of support as our government authorities focus on handling and battling COVID-19-related incidences and emergencies.
What are the latest trends in the Safety and Security industry?
Within the industry, the use of various multimedia platforms such as video streaming is growing. In this regard, Airbus’ hybrid solution Tactilon Agnet, a mission-critical push-to-talk application based on 3GPP standards, is fast gaining traction, especially since public safety organizations are more than ever in need of a solution that is capable of providing secure individual or group video, voice, data, and multimedia messaging services as well as location mapping and emergency call features. Users fulfil their mission-critical responsibilities with these features, including the ability to exchange messages with the control room.
The use of Third-party apps to gain operational efficiency is also a hot topic for public safety. Indeed, on top of all the benefits brought by Tactilon Agnet, Airbus proposes – through its dedicated SmarTWISP program – an array of Airbus-certified apps ranging from facial recognition and ID database consultation to licence plate identification and the use of sensors, amongst others.
Give us a rundown on your latest products and how do your products help in fighting COVID-19?
First responders both from private and government organizations, including the police and the healthcare sector, who have been highly active and of great support during this pandemic use our products. Before, during, and after this worldwide crisis they benefit from secure and reliable communications technology and infrastructures. Good examples of some of our solutions, which are essential in such situations are our Tactilon Agnet collaboration platform as well as our Tactilon Dabat smartphone and terminal in one.
Tactilon Agnet offers secure, efficient, and reliable one-to-one, or team communications between Tetra radios and smartphones together at the touch of a button. The unique tool also gives the possibility for control rooms to have an overview on where different users and teams are situated, with geolocalisation features. Tactilon Dabat is a hybrid smartphone and a Tetra radio in one, ensures secure collaboration through its video, text, voice data and location tracking and reporting services.
Thanks to their enhanced communication and collaboration capabilities supported by their Tetra devices, organizations gain in operational efficiency, have a faster response time, and can do what they do best which is safeguarding citizens and the society.
In the age of mobile telephony and smartphone, how do your products make a difference?
We make a difference by offering organizations the best way to communicate and collaborate with resilient and reliable products and optimized solutions. The tendency is to move progressively to hybrid solutions and this is specifically what we recommend now, and in the future.
We provide not only professional radio technology but solutions adapted for smartphone use. Our products are tailored to the evolving needs of our customers.
Solutions that highlight the hybrid approach are our Dabat Hybrid Roaming feature on the Tactilon Dabat (as mentioned earlier) and our Tactilon Agnet 800 solution, both of which guarantee, interoperability, high network resilience, and secure operations. In the case of remote positioning, or lack of network, the device can seamlessly switch between Tetra and LTE with the Dabat Hybrid Roaming feature along with Tactilon Agnet 800.
Which industry verticals are key to your success in the Middle East?
We cater to the needs of a wide range of industry verticals. Particularly, we serve the public safety, transport, oil and gas, airports, retail and energy sectors. The police, paramedics, lifeguards and airport personnel, among others, consider our communication and collaboration solutions as a critical part of their everyday work.
What is your go-to-market strategy and how do you operate in the region?
In the region, the fastest and most efficient strategy to reach our target industry verticals is to work with leading local distributors with an established presence in the country where we intend to operate. For example, here in Dubai, we have built a strong market footprint in the Emirate through our partnership with Esharah Etisalat Security Solutions.
What have been your latest success stories in the region?
The airport industry remains a critical market for us at Secure Land Communications. Given the nature of its operations and its environment, having an advanced communication system is pivotal. As an example in the region, Dubai Airport uses our hybrid Tetra system in their day-to-day operations. The airport uses secure Tetra communication to connect with stakeholders, report urgent incidents such as medical cases and other emergencies; identify the passenger load factor, and resolve issues faster and clearer. The Dubai Airport personnel can easily communicate clearly with members of their teams at once through the Tetra system’s high frequency capacity.
What kind of growth are you expecting in 2020 from the Middle East?
Despite the challenging global market conditions and uncertainties today brought about by the global pandemic, our growth outlook for our Middle East operations this year is still upbeat, owing to the fact that the regional demand for and the interest in our solutions remain healthy and robust.