On the record – staff Q&A with James Tyrrell

Although we’re always keen to tell you about our products, we’d also like to introduce you to the wonderful staff who help to develop, support and sell them. Our latest staff Q&A is with Applications Engineer James Tyrrell, a specialist in digital recording technology.

Tell us a little about your background and your current role at Brigade Electronics

Although I originally qualified as an electrician, IT has always fascinated me, and my career has gravitated towards IT and recording technology. In my last job, I was Technical Manager of a CCTV company – I then moved to Brigade as an Applications Engineer specializing in Mobile Digital Recording (MDR).

What exactly is MDR?

MDR refers to a digital recorder which captures footage from vehicle-mounted cameras, providing evidence in the case of false claims, crash-for-cash incidents or vandalism. Brigade’s latest MDR range for HGVs and other commercial vehicles has built-in GPS tracking with Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity, allowing data to be accessed from the recorder remotely. This is where my role comes in – I act as the link between our product developers/sales teams, and our customers. I liaise with all parties to ensure our customers are getting the very best from their MDR systems.

What does a typical week involve?

It’s hard to describe a typical week, as the role is so varied. I support our global offices and subsidiaries with any technical queries they may have, as well as ongoing projects. I’m also responsible for maintaining and running the UK MDR services, which provide a ‘one stop shop’ for customers using 3/4G MDRs. Brigade provides a service and SIM cards that allow customers to live stream video footage, or access footage already captured on the MDR hard drive whilst their vehicles are on the road. It’s a bit like when you buy a new mobile phone – customers subscribe to a monthly data contract and Brigade handles the rest. Supporting customers before and after installation, in terms of technical questions and fault resolution, is another key part of my role.

What’s the best thing about your job?

It’s definitely never boring! I like the fact that I deal with both Brigade staff and customers, so I have a good perspective on the whole company and its products, from the development stage right through to end user. My colleagues are a fantastic bunch – although Brigade is a global company, it still has that family feel and everyone shares a passion for the work we do.

How is MDR technology benefiting the automotive industry?

I think it’s fair to say that MDR is becoming an increasingly essential piece of kit for fleet managers and commercial vehicle operators. With more and more traffic on the roads and urban streets becoming trickier than ever to navigate, the ability to record footage from vehicle mounted cameras is invaluable. In the case of a collision or vandalism MDR provides recorded evidence, enabling vehicle operators to quickly resolve a claim where their driver was not at fault.

Now, with GPS tracking and Wi-Fi or 4G connectivity, that data can be provided in real-time at a remote location – for example the operations center of a supermarket delivery service.

How does MDR promote road safety and why is this important to you?

Visible cameras on a vehicle, and the fact that images may be captured via MDR, can act as a deterrent to reckless drivers or cash-for-crash scammers. In addition, drivers whose vehicles are fitted with cameras and an MDR also tend to drive with extra care.

This has to be good news in terms of road safety. I drive but I’m also a keen cyclist, so I can see dangers from the point of view of all road users. Where I live in east London, several cyclists have been killed on busy roundabouts. The more we can do to promote safe, conscientious driving the better.

What’s the future of driving?

The age of driverless cars is a good few years away, but I think we’ll certainly see it in our lifetimes. Driverless HGVs I’m not so sure about. Yes, commercial vehicles can be fitted with automated technology – similar to auto-pilot in an airplane – but these are such big and potentially dangerous vehicles that they will need humans in the cab to take over in case of an emergency. It’s hard to see how a driverless HGV would have the intelligence to recognize, say, restricted parking times in a built-up area.

I think we’ll definitely see a time when Brigade’s safety products, which are often fitted as upgrades, will be standard spec and integrated at a much earlier stage of vehicle production. It’s exciting to be working in such a fast-moving industry, and I’m confident that Brigade will continue to innovate and lead the field.