Introducing the BAPCO 2024 conference director

We spoke to the conference director for BAPCO 2024, Dr Jane Watson, about her career so far and what to look forward to at the BAPCO Conference in 2024
Introducing the BAPCO 2024 conference director
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Can you provide some detail on your professional background? What’s been your experience of the critical communications sector up until this point?

Dr Jane Watson, Conference
Director, Mark Allen

My career in communications started in 1998 when I joined Informa plc’s Telecoms division after completing my PhD in Biochemistry at Cambridge University.  I produced conferences in the mobile and fixed telecoms sectors most notably the Mobile World Congress which boasted 25,000 delegates (and it continued to grow!).  In addition to telecoms, I have also enjoyed working across various sectors producing events as diverse as green energy and the future of the work force.  I particularly enjoy conducting research on an industry, whether established or emerging, engaging with industry experts on what is important and how they see their industry evolving.  Properly curated, well-researched, targeted events help industries learn, network and exchanges ideas & insights.  They help industry communities move things forward together to meet their ambitions.  To be part of this shared journey is hugely rewarding for me. 

Building on my extensive Telecoms expertise, I joined Mark Allen Group in May 2023 when I assumed responsibility for the production of the BAPCO annual event.  I am thoroughly enjoying working in this most important and purposeful sector to help address the challenges so as to better serve the public. 

How did first get involved with BAPCO? Had you heard of the association prior to coming onboard as conference director?

I first got involved with the BAPCO event when I joined the Mark Allen Group in May last year.  I had of course known of the association long before then from working at Informa and their longstanding involvement with “Critical Communications World” which included collaborating with British APCO on speaking opportunities. 

As the producer for the annual BAPCO event, I work closely with British APCO board and advisory board to source the most relevant case studies within the sector, research the industry’s most pressing challenges and bring the community together at the annual conference to shape the debate and move the industry forward. 

What do you believe are the key issues currently facing the UK public safety comms sector?

From research, industry discussions and our latest call for content, it is clear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a very hot topic, in particular how it could be used to best effect in emergency critical services.  Another key topic is the pivotable role that human decision-making plays when preparing and executing emergency communication.

Furthermore, there is much interest in the debates surrounding the transition to broadband and 5G, cybersecurity (both challenges and solutions), the adoption of new & evolving technologies into everyday operations and how to engage the public most effectively with digital public contact technologies. 

How are they going to be reflected in the BAPCO 2024 conference programme? What topics are you particularly interested in and why?

New for this year we have a “spotlight session” focussing on each emergency service in turn where we will discuss cross-agency communication and learning from other public agencies.

In addition, “The huddle” is a more inclusive and informal conference stream which be held in a horse-shoe shaped theatre to enable more interactive and immersive discussions and demos.

With drones, devices, video, AR, AI etc, the demos will showcase what the future of tech looks like from an incident perspective.

The discussions will cover: 1) mental health and wellbeing whilst working on the front line, 2) education and training of critical communications staff and 3) how tech can help share information and lessons learned from e.g. CC:IPS, NG999, NG911 & NG112.

I am very excited about the new huddle session as I believe it will enhance attendees’ understanding and provide insights which can be immediately implemented within their organisations. 

Throughout the conference, the British APCO will share updates, news and developments with its members. 

What do you hope will be achieved in Coventry next March?

BAPCO Coventry is the ideal place for the busy public safety sector to come together as a community to discuss the challenges they are facing, learn from each others’ experiences, establish (or continue!) collaborative partnerships and enjoy each others’ company at the annual conference and dinner.  Looking forward to seeing you there 😊

You can register for BAPCO 2024 here. 

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