Back from the East
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:
Iain Clarke, senior vice-president and general manager – Europe, Middle East, North Africa (EMENA) at Motorola Solutions

Iain Clarke, senior vice-president and general manager – Europe, Middle East, North Africa (EMENA) at Motorola Solutions, speaks to Sam Fenwick about some of the biggest trends in the industry and his company’s priorities

Having spent three years managing Motorola Solutions’ Asia Pacific business, operating out of Singapore, prior to his current role and having played a key part in securing the company’s major public safety contracts in Northern Europe, Iain Clarke’s far-flung expertise makes him well-positioned when it comes to discussing the global PMR market.

One of the things he has noticed is that on the public safety side, “a lot of the end-users are protecting against very similar threats (crime and terrorism) and grappling with the same kind of issues. In Australia, they have been very focused on their response to big bush fires over the years; then I look at some of the fires we’ve had in Europe. I was recently with a Norwegian customer and they [discussed] all the forest fires they’ve had in Norway and Sweden. So, I don’t really see differences from an end-user point of view.”

On the commercial side, one of the biggest regional differences Clarke sees is the sheer amount of new transportation infrastructure being built in Asia, such as roads, airports and metros, and many of these projects often require their own two-way radio network. “In Asia you have three of the four most populated countries in the world – China, India and Indonesia – and one of their challenges is moving that vast number of people around. In China, we might be bidding [on] 20 or 25 metro projects at any one time and we’ve seen that [scale of development] spread to the other populated countries in South East Asia as well.”

One universal issue is spectrum, which Clarke describes as the two-way radio industry’s lifeblood. “The industry really needs to act as one, to advocate the availability of spectrum, and make sure the government understands the economic benefit of LMR even when moving to new technologies.”

Growing the PTT user base with PoC
It has been impossible to escape the buzz around PTT over Cellular (PoC), though figures on the extent of its take-up are somewhat elusive. One obvious concern is whether an industry that heavily relies on network infrastructure sales can ramp up the revenue from services and software licences quickly enough to compensate for any drop-off in infrastructure demand caused by users embracing PoC. However, Clarke, doesn’t envisage a decline in Motorola Solutions’ device and PMR network infrastructure business.

It’s worth noting that the company exited the LTE infrastructure market, when it sold its cellular networks business to Nokia Siemens Networks back in 2011 and has “no plans to invest on the eNodeB side of things”, although it has done so heavily on the LTE device side, with the LEX series. Motorola currently partners with Ericsson “for the supply of LTE infrastructure into the LTE projects that we’re working on”. Clarke adds that globally “there aren’t that many private LTE network projects, [although] we’ve won a couple of them”.

Clarke highlights Motorola Solutions’ recent launch of the TLK 100 in the US, a PoC handset with the form factor of a two-way radio, rather than a smartphone. He believes that it could support a market that has been traditionally underserved by two-way radio, given that in the UK, there is no nationwide PMR network for business use and a lot of users of wide area networks have migrated to cellular. “I was involved with the Dolphin business years ago where they were trying to build a nationwide TETRA network to serve the non-public safety market, and one of the verticals it was focusing on was the transportation and logistics space. A PoC solution for customers like that could potentially be pretty attractive.” He also sees PoC as presenting a “real opportunity to grow the market” in terms of the number of push-to-talk users.

What’s next?
Clarke says having “generally performed well over the last couple of years”, part of Motorola Solutions’ mandate is pursuing sustainable growth and seeing benefits from a number of recent acquisitions. For example, “we’re really excited about the Avigilon business. Our focus now is to find opportunities to accelerate growth and create some synergy with regard to some of our channel partners; for example, getting them selling the Avigilon portfolio. The Avigilon solutions align well with our command centre software product strategy and are a great fit to our public safety market as well, and this will enable our direct mission-critical control room customers to expand their video analytics capabilities.”

In addition, Clarke highlights the take-up of the Pronto mobile data application suite for frontline police forces (it is being used in 18 of the UK’s police forces and a couple of other agencies), which was added to the Motorola Solutions portfolio as part of the Airwave acquisition in 2016. This is effectively a mobile data productivity suite for frontline police forces. “We’re quite focused on how we can take that to other regions and leverage some of the investment that we’ve already made here in the UK.”

The next generation
While some might wonder how two-way radio will fare in the hands of today’s digital natives who have grown up with touchscreens and smartphones, Clarke has no such concerns. “My eldest daughter is 17 now and when I was in Singapore, she did a week’s work experience in our office. She didn’t have a clue about two-way radios before she came in, but she was really keen to learn about the technology and about what a radio does. [She] had such a great appreciation once it was explained to her – she realised that there were things that you can do on a two-way radio that you can’t necessarily do on a smartphone. A big part of it is [around] education and looking at the environment where two-way radios are required.”

While we’re on the topic of smartphones and usability, Clarke says he has “spoken to some customers and they might want a DMR/TETRA-LTE device with a big screen, which from an engineering perspective is very doable, then you think how easy it is to use a device like that, how you keep its (probably Android) operating system [up-to-date]. Very soon you get into an environment where, if you have a device like that, the LTE/Android piece is going to be obsolete way before the DMR piece is. It’s a real challenge for this community. We have a lot of debate with customers about whether it should be two devices or one and how we get the benefits of both without falling into the traps of having a product that goes obsolete much more quickly than we were used to.”

Another potential issue we discuss is the one that could arise if an end-user were to spend a lot of time running power-hungry applications on the device they also rely on for mission-critical voice.

Making sense of data
Returning to control rooms, Clarke expects video to “change the game enormously” as it becomes even more prevalent and analytics coupled with artificial intelligence continue to develop. “Customers will be seeking to leverage technology to help them make more informed decisions, particularly around video, because the data is just so vast – a lot of police officers carry body-worn video cameras now, so you’ve got data coming in from there as well; being able to process that [huge amount of data in] real time as well as being able to look back in time is going to be really important for our users.”

While we’re on the subject of body-worn video, Clarke highlights the way it improves the safety of police officers – just having a camera mounted on an officer’s chest “prevents a lot of abuse”. He adds that in Singapore, “we deployed body-worn cameras to the police there [and] they’re also starting to deploy them to people like traffic wardens as well – people who deal with the public”.

Clarke says prisons are another market for body-worn video cameras. “We’ve definitely seen some opportunity in places like Australia, where prison guards are looking for that added capability to help them do their job and feel safe.” However, he notes that as you move into the commercial world, the two-way radio network technology of choice is likely to be DMR, so the next frontier for Motorola Solutions would probably be to design a body-worn video camera/remote speaker microphone that is optimised for commercial markets.

It’s clear from our conversation that there is a huge amount all going on at once, such as the rise of PoC, the move towards greater use of video and the debate around the number of handsets that a police officer should carry, and it will be fascinating to see how these all play out over the years to come.

CV – Iain Clarke
Iain Clarke, senior vice-president, is responsible for Motorola Solutions’ overall business performance in Europe, Middle East and North Africa.

Prior to this he was based in Singapore and led the the company’s Asia Pacific business.

He first joined Motorola Solutions in 2000 as manager for a major European customer. Two years later, he assumed responsibility for the Airwave business and played a leading role in securing nationwide public safety contracts in Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Portugal.

In 2008, Clarke was appointed sales director, Western Europe with responsibility for Motorola Solutions’ government and public safety business.

In 2011, he led an expanded Western Europe region, responsible for the sale of products across various radio, wireless infrastructure and mobile computing markets.

Educated at the University of East London, he graduated with a BA (Hons) in business studies.

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