Ian Thompson, Interim Chief Executive of British APCO explains the role of the British APCO and how it affects all of us.
You may not have heard of British APCO or BAPCO (British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials) as they used to be known. If you have you’ll either think of them as a Conference & Exhibition or as something your colleagues in the control room or IT should join.
What you may not know is that British APCO works for you. As an association they are focussed on the development and use of Public Safety Communications, IT and Control Rooms for everybody who is involved in keeping the public safe. We do this for and with our members and membership is free. www.bapco.org.uk/register/default.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fmembership%2f
We are all users of communications and IT equipment whether we take the call, maintain the equipment or attend the scene. Our members are drawn not just from the emergency services but everybody who provides a service under the public safety banner. We don’t just include ‘users’ but commercial members as well. Our combined voice makes us stronger when we are raising issues within the industry or discussing matters with ministers or government departments.
Much of our members’ interest at the moment is focussed on the Emergency Services Network or ESN. Many of you will know this is what the Government is going to replace your current Airwave communications system with. Organisations are working hard to plan and prepare for this huge change to how we work. There is a thirst for the latest information and many gaps in people’s knowledge about what is happening and when. This is especially true for users despite the best efforts of their organisations.
We are holding an event in Newcastle next month where senior representatives of the Home Office ESN team and their partners from Motorola, ee and KBR will be attending to give the latest updates. Admission to this event is free to members. That’s right, membership is free and one of the benefits is free admission to our events. Have a look at our website for further information and to register to attend. http://www.bapco.org.uk/events/b-apco-autumn-event-2016/
We are the leading organisation for users on eCall, the system being built into cars already that allows the vehicle to dial 999 if it has been involved in a collision. This system will become mandatory in the UK and across Europe soon. We are concerned at a lack of government leadership on the matter and that users have not been involved and are still not properly informed.
Do you know about eCall and how it will affect your job? We ran an information event on eCall recently with updates from industry experts and users. All of the slides are available in the members’ area of our website, access to them is free as a benefit of membership.
We run an annual conference and exhibition, the next of which is in March 2017. This is the key event in the UK’s critical communications calendar. We provide a major exhibition hall packed with the latest technologies as well as presentations from keynote speakers representing users, industry, regulators and government.
Whilst our 2017 event will undoubtedly have a strong focus on ESN, we are working with our partners via our volunteer executive committee to ensure we cover other interesting themes from the public safety world. Topics currently being considered are wearable tech, internet of things, augmented and virtual reality. Before you think that’s all a bit sci-fi or geeky, it’s all looked at with public safety and you the users in mind. If it doesn’t pass that test, it doesn’t get in. Commercial partners accept and appreciate this and work with us to ensure the conference and exhibition gets better and better each year.
Of course you’d expect a major event in the public safety calendar like this to have a big price tag attached. Admission to the whole event, including the talks, seminars and presentations is free to members.
I hope I’ve given you a taste of what British APCO is about. We are a user led association that’s here for you. We don’t charge for membership. We provide events, newsletters, a quarterly Journal, and a website. Have a look, join us and make our voice stronger. We hope to see you at one of our events. After all what do you have to lose, it’s free.