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SOFTWARE

SMART RADIO

APPS IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT Steve Crutchfield, MD, Motorola Solutions Australia and New Zealand

The transport industry will be revolutionised by smart radios and apps.

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hat is an app, really? The name has been somewhat hijacked for a consumer audience, and at the mere mention of the term one immediately pictures a square icon on a touch screen that opens up a game or website. As the years roll on, there’s a good chance younger generations won’t be aware it’s actually short for ‘application’, such is the pervasiveness of the shortened term in the vernacular. But lost in the abbreviation is the definition: an application at its most basic level, and while still being defined in a device perspective - is simply a program that enables a device to operate a specific function. And that definition is not limited to the smartphone that you undoubtedly have in your pocket right now. An application can appear on any device, and there’s a good chance that anyone in the transportation industry has with them a device that’s become just as app-ready as the smartphone. I’m talking, of course, of the trusty two-way radio. The two-way radio has undergone a renaissance recently, evolving from an analog staple of industry comms into a digital device capable of much more than simply one-to-one communications. In much the same way the phone got smarter, so too has the digital radio, to the point that we can refer to it as the ‘smart radio’. The smart radio has brought with it a functionality that has opened the floodgates for app developers to create industry-specific and industry-agnostic applications.

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If we look from a transport point of view, the application possibilities could change the nature of how the job is done.

Broadening capabilities Inherent in digital radios is the ability to communicate one-to-one and one-to-many, by voice or text. They have internet connectivity. They have built-in GPS and mapping services. They can send and receive data including images and video. Simply put, the radio is capable of so much more than ever before, and app developers have exponentially increased its capabilities. As these apps are being developed, two-way radio handsets are beginning to replace other proprietary devices that were previously used for the sole purpose of performing one or more specialised functions - functions that can now be done by the radio and the app. For example, drivers can now use the digital radio to automatically determine a new route in the event of gridlock, using the mapping and imaging features in the radio along with the GPS. Meanwhile, the ‘man down’ application is one that is transforming the way organisations are approaching worker safety. Automation applications are particularly useful in the transportation arena. For example, the radio can be used to alert headquarters if a bus is speeding in a school zone. This can assist the organisation in ensuring the safety of its staff and the general public. The job ticketing app, meanwhile, is making everyone’s lives easier. In the past, users needed a second device to manage job

Nov/Dec 2014 - Critical Comms

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Profile for Westwick-Farrow Media

Critical Comms Nov/Dec 2014  

The communications industry magazine for the public safety, law enforcement, utilities, transport, mining, security and defence sectors thro...

Critical Comms Nov/Dec 2014  

The communications industry magazine for the public safety, law enforcement, utilities, transport, mining, security and defence sectors thro...