Motorola Solutions shifts to data analytics and services focus

In a tight government fiscal environment where emergency agencies are reluctant to build out their own networks, Motorola Solutions is looking to win customers over with a full managed services offering.

Motorola Solutions is now seeking to position itself as the cloud services provider for Australian emergency service agencies, offering all the "smart safety solutions" that work to ensure officers in the field have the right information at the right time.

Motorola Solutions has traditionally been known as a handset manufacturer, particularly for emergency services. The company provides handsets and other equipment for fire, ambulance, and police agencies, but has also been working to expand its offering into providing a full service of network, devices, and intelligence for the agencies.

The company's Australian and New Zealand managing director Steve Crutchfield told journalists in Melbourne last week that the company's business in Australia is particularly focused on services it could provide to government agencies.

"We are much more of a services-led organisation, and it does surprise a lot of people. People still think of Motorola Solutions as people who make pieces of hardware. In Australia and New Zealand, our model has been very much services led, and will continue to be," he said.

Crutchfield pointed to a recent AU$175 million contract win with the South Australian government to upgrade and manage its government radio network over the next seven years.

The network will cover more than 20 agencies in the state, including fire, police, and ambulance, with 200 transmission sites and 20,000 users.

The gear being built into the network is not all Motorola's, Crutchfield said.

"A large component of that upgrade is third-party or non-Motorola technology as well, and then the ongoing operation of that on a 24/7 basis as well."

Motorola will run the state's network operations centre for monitoring incidents, and Crutchfield said this demonstrates Motorola's shifted focus.

"That has been our core business in Australia for a number of years. No one knows about this whole new space we've been involved in, and investing in for a number of years now."

The company has flown out US executive Tom Guthrie, vice president for smart public safety solutions, to visit five cities in Australia over the next few weeks. He will be meeting with Motorola's customers to demonstrate how the data gathered by incident monitoring and collecting data from officers out in the field can be used to react to incidents and prevent other incidents from occurring.

"You've got to look into the data that is available to them," he said.

Guthrie said that this means Motorola is now examining what software-as-a-service might bring to emergency services, what data agencies could put into the cloud, and what intelligence the public safety agencies could derive from all the data being collected.

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"You've got all of the data coming in video format. It could be a security camera, a body camera, a dashboard camera. They're capturing a ton of information. How do you manage that? And how do you maintain it securely, and maintain chain of custody?

"There are other restrictions ... there's other security process and action control that we have to address within public safety, as well."

Guthrie said that the business processes used by enterprise for data does not apply to public safety.

"[Officers] are task assigned, and the information you want to give to them -- they have other things that they are doing, and would like for their hands to be free -- we have to sort through and determine what is truly intelligence out of that mass of big data," he said.

"Once I've found that, how do I get that out to an individual that's in the field? Do they have a radio, or a smart device, or a vehicle with a mobile data terminal?"

Motorola is in an "explore and test" phase with customers, where the company seeks to determine whether the technology on offer could improve workflows of public safety agencies in responding to events and solving crimes.

To back up its shift to services, in particular cloud services, the company has recently completed an acquisition of Emergency CallWorks, an emergency call software service that can be hosted in the cloud. Emergency CallWorks maps where calls are coming from based on the cell tower site information.

"It brings in some of that spatial awareness of where that caller [is located]," Guthrie said.

Motorola also bought PublicEngines, a cloud provider of data analytics for crime analysis and "predictive policing" that will be able to determine the likelihood of a crime occurring in a certain time in a certain place to allow police to allocate resources.

Crutchfield said the company's partnership with Telstra for public safety, particularly with its 4G solution known as LANES, would continue despite the company venturing further into the services field.

"The partnership with Telstra has evolved over the last two years, and is continuing to evolve ... to actually creating new solutions specifically for public safety," he said.

Josh Taylor travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Motorola Solutions.

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