Meet The Team
What makes Public Safety unique, aside from the critical mission served, is its community. We see our colleagues, time and again, no matter the distance or reason, ready to lend a helping hand. We know we can count on one another to be there for the long haul. And, it's this spirit of Public Safety that makes it so special.
Senior Manager, Business Development
The migration to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) is upon us, and helping lead its charge is Airbus DS Communications' Senior Manager of Business Development, Bob Blevins. To do so, Bob is out "in the field," assisting 9-1-1 Authorities to understand what NG9-1-1 means to their operations. For him, this involves listening and understanding their roadblocks to get there. It's also providing education on the true meaning of NG9-1-1 and how our VESTA® NEXT portfolio of NG9-1-1 services can alleviate perceived barriers.
"9-1-1 technology has stayed the same since the eighties. Yet, the public has moved forward. We can't do anything without a smart phone, so the 9-1-1 network has to catch up with what's going on in the real world," says Bob. "There's so much technology and information out there, so the question becomes: How do we get the network to step up without bombarding the 9-1-1 center? It's a migration. It's a transitional period, but one we can make positive for our customers."
Bob, who is approaching one month as an official Airbus employee, knows the company's customers. His initial introduction was while working for Airbus channel partner, Verizon, where he got his start in 1996 as a project manager, serving the needs of organizations in various industries. In fact, Bob's background is in project management, and he served as president of his local Project Management Institute chapter for several years. In 2002, he made the switch to 9-1-1 sales, providing PSAPs with VESTA® solutions, and he says it was "a match made in heaven, like a sprocket in a cog." Eleven years later, he took a job with Leidos, continuing to work with Airbus and its customers, at the Federal level.
"Airbus has always been a very friendly company to work with. They get stuff done, and their goal is the same as mine - to benefit the end user, the customer. That was always appealing to me, so when the opportunity presented itself to come aboard in a role which allowed me to still work with the end user, I couldn't pass it up."
Working with the end users is important to Bob because he understands the weight of the role of a Calltaker. He considers the well-being of his children and his mother and what they need to best contact 9-1-1 should something happen to them. Yet, he also looks at it from the viewpoint of those on the front lines and what they need to best manage their emergency calls.
"I don't like to be up in the ivory tower. I want to see how the day-to-day affects whatever we provide our customers and make sure it assists them to more easily do their jobs. They have a very tough job. I've been in the industry since 2002, but I couldn't sit in those seats and do what they do."
The Public Safety industry is where Bob plans to spend the remainder of his work career, and he enjoys its continuity. For example, when he attended the recent Pennsylvania NENA conference, he ran into many of the same PSAP directors he worked with years ago and enjoyed the chance to reconnect with them. He says, "We talk a lot about change in the industry. But, there's something about 9-1-1. We stay connected to it and each other. It's a big industry, but it's small."
When he's not attending conferences or visiting customers, you can likely find Bob at a sporting event, ranging from Baltimore Ravens' games, for which he's a season ticket holder, to his daughter's lacrosse matches. Bob also has a son, who's attending college. It's his kids and all kids he calls "the technology generation," and he's passionate about helping PSAPs transition to better meet their needs.
"I'm really looking forward to Airbus becoming that IP/ESInet provider in my home state and the states around me and all across the country. I'm excited for both us and the end user as we become the NG9-1-1 provider."
Manager, Network and Security Operations
Dave Catron leads the Airbus DS Communications team who manage tens of thousands of devices at our customer sites and data centers. These range from servers and routers to switches and firewalls. To ensure their integrity, his team performs various services, including patch management and anti-virus application, from our state-of-the-art Network and Security Operations Center. They also watch for issues and perform disaster recovery as needed, helping ensure the ongoing availability of 9-1-1 operations for any PSAP.
"We're the first line of defense," explains Dave. "That drives us to be proactive in our approach and allows us to see things happening before they impact service."
Dave is certainly no stranger to working on the front lines. He served in the Marine Corps in force reconnaissance, and after nine years, joined the Los Angeles Police Department, where he stayed for nearly two decades. During this time, he worked patrol, drug enforcement, special investigative services and finally, air support, under which Dave flew helicopters until he received a gunshot wound to the knee and was medically retired. It was then he made the leap into a new career - information technology. It gave him an opportunity to finally use the electronic engineering degree he'd earned from California Polytechnic State University.
Today, he's been in IT for 19 years and has held various positions with several Fortune 500 customers. This experience has resulted in expertise in routing, switching and VoIP and helped him achieve various Microsoft® and Cisco® certifications. It's allowed him to build managed services from the ground up and pass gold audits. So, when he joined Airbus almost a year ago, he began applying those proven processes. And through his leadership, his team is raising the bar for customer satisfaction, improving response time at all levels of system alerts.
"Having been on the other side, I know the importance of these systems for Public Safety. And that makes no one customer any more important than another. It all falls back on our motto, CRITICAL MATTERS®. Someone's life can be on the line if they can't get through on a call. This is one of the few industries in which you can work in I.T. and actually have a positive impact on society."
Dave is glad to be back in Public Safety and enjoys being able to provide service to peers he worked with in his law enforcement days. Most of all, Dave appreciates the chance to mentor his team. "I had good mentors along the way, so I push my team to be more than ticket makers, to grow into engineers. I'm very proud of them."
When Dave's not working to lead and support his team, he's spending quality time with his family, which includes his wife, three kids and three grandchildren. A favorite pastime is with his 13-year-old daughter, whom he and his wife adopted from Kyrgyzstan 10 years ago. Together, they restore old British roadsters to sell and are currently restoring a 1971 Triumph TR6. "I have eight different cars. My wife calls it an illness. I call it a retirement plan."
For Dave, preparedness is key in all aspects of life and especially when it comes to Public Safety. That's why he takes great measures to ensure that of his team. "We want to be prepared for any situation, such as Hurricane Harvey. We were proud to support Greater Harris County during that time. Everything worked. We were prepared."