Aidex Voices

AidEx spoke to the United Nations and International Accounts Director Travis Heneveld all about how Motorola Solutions is streamlining communication to enhance aid operations.

Tell us about your role and what your organisation does?

Motorola Solutions provides the situational awareness first responders need following a catastrophe. We do this by connecting them to seamless communication networks, applications and services by providing them with real-time information, and by arming them with intuitive, almost indestructible radios and devices. The UN/NGO team at Motorola Solutions has an international presence, and oversees the delivery of business critical communication solutions to peacekeeping, emergency response and development agencies worldwide.

Which countries do you work in?

Our UN/NGO customers use our products and solutions in over 100 countries globally. The bulk of our work takes place locally in countries with significant peacekeeping and/or humanitarian operations, as well as at a global level in agency headquarters and humanitarian working groups.

Which NGOs does your organisation work with and how?

As the global leader in push to talk two-way radio, Motorola Solutions and partners work with stakeholders across peacekeeping, emergency response and development operations. Our products and services help to keep the information flowing between citizens, responders, and agencies. We focus on access, data collection, actionable decision making and secure communications across mission-critical devices and easy-to-manage network. We are also a strong proponent of the establishment of regulatory standards, to help build entrepreneurial ecosystems, to make innovation happen more quickly and to act as a catalyst for growth.

Can you tell us about a particular case where your service/product has had a positive global impact?

Ever since the adoption of the DMR Digital Radio standard over a decade ago, the capabilities of mission critical communications have expanded tremendously. Here are just some examples of how digital radio networks benefit humanitarian operations:

Safety: For personnel guarding conflict-stricken or sensitive areas, the centralised lone worker application provides reassurance and enhanced protection by requiring radio users to check in at pre-determined intervals. If an individual fails to respond to a request, an emergency alarm can be raised and automatically sent to response teams.

Tracking: Check on the progress of food distribution convoys and monitor personnel entering potentially dangerous locations with real-time GPS and indoor tracking that pinpoints their position on mapping platforms such as Google Earth. These apps can also help you to identify the person or vehicle closest to a site if a breakdown occurs and summon medical assistance when needed, speeding up response times.

Control Room: manage resources and assign tasks to the most relevant people, while at the same time improve safety and response times. Emergency calls can be broadcast to multiple groups simultaneously and direct communication can be achieved between dispatchers and remote radios for private one-to-one calls.

Telemetry: Monitor or control access to refugee camps and safeguard high-security perimeters remotely, via your two-way radio. Telemetry allows you to check on the status of machinery, power supplies, sensors and alarms, making it easier and quicker to respond to alerts.

What are your organisation’s objectives within the context of international aid and development?

We help people be their best in the moments that matter. As a company, this is our purpose. While Motorola Solutions’ pioneering heritage and experience in public safety has enabled us to develop a wide range of mission-critical communication solutions that span infrastructure, devices, software and services, the true potential of all this technology risks remaining untapped without shared knowledge and local resources. We are proud to be part of global initiatives and humanitarian operations that link innovation in mobile technologies with concrete local priorities such as security, transparency, workplace efficiency, and economic development.

What will Motorola Solutions be exhibiting at AidEx 2017 and why is it important to the development and aid sector?

Motorola Solutions is showcasing a deployable LTE critical communications infrastructure that enables quick set up in remote locations; Interoperability solutions that enable critical group communication across broadband and radio platforms; and lastly our LTE and other radio handsets, full of functional features and built to withstand harsh environments. Our solutions are designed to deploy fast and enable reliable data-rich communications that help the development and aid sector be their best when it matters most.

What do you think the biggest challenge to aid and development is at present?

I see the current digitisation of aid programmes and operations as both an opportunity and a challenge. The technology and expertise exists to turn noise into information, information into intelligence, and intelligence into impact, in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and beyond. And it's how to do the absolute most with less — to build safer cities and communities that thrive throughout the world. However, we only achieve such objectives within the humanitarian community by working together on technology standards, by keeping network security in mind, and by addressing the organisational impact of “big data.”

How important is the private sector’s role in aid and development?

The private sector has a key role to play in aid and development, especially with the rising trend of having to do more with less. We can work with humanitarian actors to come up with innovative and impactful ways to reduce capital investment costs, share capacity and create jobs locally.

In our experience, one of the most effective ways for technology innovators to achieve impact is to collaborate with affected communities. After all, who is better placed to understand the daily challenges and how lack of access to basic public services such as healthcare, education and security impedes a population’s stability and development?

By understanding individual and group needs at grass-roots level, nurturing ideas and working with affected communities to identify technological solutions, technology vendors can contribute to entrepreneurial ecosystems that give citizens the access and opportunities they need to enable progress.

This process requires engagement in a number of different networks, from advising regulatory bodies and supporting educational institutions to participating in forums and hosting workshops. Together, these networks underpin the drive towards growth and stability.