Crucial Connections

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-By Kristy Attard

Around the world people are tweeting, texting and poking each other on Facebook. We are undoubtedly living in the age of communication. Communication is an integral part of our everyday lives. We amuse ourselves by catching up on juicy celebrity gossip via Twitter and sending chain emails to colleagues. It’s a lot of fun, but certainly not a matter of life and death. Technology is forever opening up new ways of staying connected with one another; admittedly most of it is spent sharing trivial tidbits of information.

However, effective communication sometimes does spell the difference between life and death. C4i is a company using communication for mission-critical purposes. Being a world class communications business with over 20 years of experience, C4i is a capable player on an international scale, offering customised communication solutions for clients at land, sea and sky.

Saving Lives

This may be the first you have heard of C4i, but the company operates behind the scenes, enabling mission-critical audio to reach its intended destination the first time, every time. The name C4i is an acronym which stands for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence. Right now, you may be thinking that this is just another high tech communications company that has nothing to do with you…Think again.

Terrorism is an ugly part of the modern world. Attacks on America, Bali, Spain and England in recent years have vividly highlighted the importance of public safety. Real time communication between people, police, governments and the armed forces plays a major part in preventing these attacks from happening. In the unfortunate event of an attack, the quick response of the armed forces and emergency services – aided by an excellent communications system – is essential to save lives.

On what can be deemed as ‘just another day on the job’ for fire fighters, police and paramedics worldwide, having clear communication with one another is essential. These life-saving services often must join forces especially in emergency situations. Imagine a blazing factory fire, a suicidal person about to jump off a building, a bomb threat… Controlling these types of situations requires teamwork and an interoperable communication system. C4i designs and engineers valuable communications equipment for public safety agencies and military services in over 25 countries, maintaining a reputation for excellence. With client partners like the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Danish Police Force, C4i has a strong international track record. “You work pretty hard using all disciplines of the business to secure contracts around the planet,” says the Managing Director of C4i Peter Harrison.

Superior Technology

Technology grows old fast with today’s latest and greatest gadgets ending up in tomorrow’s landfill. With a focus on durability, reliability and scalability, C4i assesses the needs of its clients and creates future proof communication solutions. By future proof, C4i means that its cutting edge technology simply evolves to facilitate new advancements; it does not become obsolete. To remain one step ahead of competitors, Mr Harrison believes in the importance of ongoing product development, commenting, “there’s a significant portion of our business – 25 per cent approximately last financial year, committed to research and development.” C4i systems are continuously developed by means of electronics, software, hardware and systems engineering. To meet specific customer applications, engineers design unique configurations of the proprietary product.

C4i’s SwitchplusIP® Command Centre LT is a mobile, IP based intercommunications system (ICS). This user friendly system incorporates highly sophisticated technology behind a touchscreen interface that allows the user to connect with the receiver quickly and easily. Just recently, C4i was proud to have this product chosen as an ‘APCO Hot Product’ by APCO International, the world’s largest organisation of public safety communications professionals, for the second year in a row. Recognised as a world leader in Red/Black voice communications technology, C4i is also one of the most advanced players in the VoIP space. C4i moved into VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) earlier than its competitors in the field of mission-critical applications. C4i takes pride in being the first company to deliver a VoIP end-to-end national air defence system for the Thai Air Force.

One project the company completed for the RAAF was the MCRC project which is “a niche, highly tailored Red/Black VoIP system.” Peter Harrison explains the importance of this project: “C4i is one of a handful of suppliers in the world that’s actually able to manufacture or have even created a Red/Black product, which really means we deal with classified and unclassified voice and data communications simultaneously.” The technology undergoes stringent testing to meet the high standards of the Australian Defence Force and NATO/US departments. “The system developed was unique in the fact that it was not only Red/Black, but end-to-end IP mission-critical and a fault tolerant design for a transportable environment.” For those of us who aren’t as technical, ‘fault tolerance’ means that there is no single point of failure within the system, meaning that it is extremely reliable and experiences little downtime.

The MIRT project is an example of how C4i customises its core technology to meet the needs of individual clients. MIRT (Mobile Incident Response Trailer) is a deployable communications system. Mr Harrison comments, “It’s our core technology packaged in a more mobile transportable format which would allow for the users of the system to establish a mobile command centre anywhere of their choosing which interconnects with their existing radios, 3 G networks, local Wi-Fi devices etc.” This type of technology is beneficial for operations or repairs that need to be performed in remote areas that may have limited radio coverage – a feature that C4i feels would be of use in many different industries.

C4i’s high-energy, fast paced offices are filled with staff that enjoy seeing the results of their efforts performing in challenging, rugged environments. Mr Harrison appreciates having hands-on exposure to all aspects of the business, which he is able to enjoy due to his breadth of experience in the field. “I’ve been in the defence and communications business for over 20 years; I’ve come from a technical background personally and have been with C4i for 13 years.” He believes that everyone at C4i – being a medium sized company – has the opportunity to make a difference to customers, shareholders and ever-developing technology. Staff are proactive in making a business that is a first choice solution for clients in a range of industries: defence, utilities, transport and the mining sector.

Looking Forward

In the future C4i aims to strengthen its reputation as a world leader in mission-critical communications. To further grow the C4i brand, the company will continue to adapt to market trends and develop product innovations that deliver. “Our goal is to be internationally recognised as a brand in the niche markets that we operate.”

Expanding further into the resources sector with a keen focus on Australian markets is a part of C4i’s future direction. As we all know, the resources sector is an important part of the Australian economy. Mr Harrison believes that C4i’s rugged technology is well suited to the remote nature of mining, where control rooms are often situated far from worksites. Having a reliable, Real Time communication system has great benefits to the mining sector. Poor communication often causes costly mistakes, contributing to delays which in turn drive up project costs. “In essence, it’s not that dissimilar to what defence [or] public safety requires; the business practices are different but the underlying requirements are quite similar, so we think there’s a good technology overlap and skill base within the organisation,” says Mr Harrison.

“I think the technology is not the challenge; the real challenge is the nature of our business. We want to get into being a more product-based business, where there’s some guaranteed annuity, but we’re still predominately a projects-based business, so we compete internationally for all of the work we win.” With high aspirations, a highly skilled workforce, and a huge amount of past experience – the future is looking bright for C4i.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 16, 2018, 6:42 AM AEDT