Tech firm APD Communications acquired by subsidiary of NEC Corporation

Technology firm APD Communications has become part of a global corporation following an acquisition of the Hull-based company.

Mike Isherwood, managing director of APD Communications.
Mike Isherwood, managing director of APD Communications.

APD, which provides software to the emergency services, public safety and control room market, has been acquired by Northgate Public Services (NPS).

Software business NPS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, a global information and communications technology group.

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Mike Isherwood, managing director of APD, said: “Joining the NPS team enables us to accelerate our strategic plan and achieve our ambitions.”

APD provides mission critical communications and control solutions used by more than two thirds of UK police forces as well as transportation hubs and airports, including Gatwick and Dubai international airports and the London Underground.

NPS provides policing IT solutions in the UK with more than 50 per cent of police forces currently using its crime, custody and intelligence management system CONNECT to manage information on victims and crimes.

Mr Isherwood said: “The
synergy between our products and customers is really exciting. Together, we will be stronger
 and have the resources and capability to provide innovative, 
market-leading solutions that keep our customers at the forefront of digital public safety delivery.”

APD, which was founded by two academics from the University of Hull and is based at the Newland Science Park, employs around 120 staff mainly consisting of software developers.

“Becoming part of the NEC family will provide the investment and resources to realise our global expansion plans and enable us to deliver a strengthened proposition of additional products and services,” Mr Isherwood said.

He added: “It is also really exciting for our people, who will benefit from greater career and development opportunities from becoming part of a global technology leader employing 100,000 people across the world.”

APD will continue to operate under its current name. The firm’s current management team and operational staff will also remain in place. APD will continue to be based in Hull and operate as a business unit within NPS’ Safety Division. Ian Blackhurst, executive director of Safety and Health at NPS, said: “This acquisition is a great opportunity for us to expand our offer and will bring substantial value to customers of both APD and NPS.

“Both companies are very excited about our future together. Our working practices are already very similar so we will be able to start adding value to our solutions straight away.”

In 2018, APD increased turnover to £9.3m, up by 36 per cent over two years, and grew operating profits by almost a third.

APD also secured its largest-ever order book last year, with new orders worth more than £3m across Europe and the Middle East alone.

Mr Isherwood believes technology has a “much bigger part to play” in helping emergency services. He said: “Part of the challenge that emergency services have right now is that the needs of our society are changing significantly.

One example is the language barrier. We have an increasing population in this country that either have a relatively poor grasp of the English language or indeed in some cases they can’t speak our language at all.

“In order for the emergency services to respond to someone who has a language need, they have to figure out which language they’re speaking.

“That can sometimes take quite some time to figure out what language they’re speaking and find an interpreter. Using technology going forward we will be able to analyse the voice patterns and actually tell them which language they’re speaking.”

APD plays role from the London Underground to Dubai airports

APD Communications provides software to the London Underground network.

Mike Isherwood said: “All of the communications that happen across the five train companies that operate on the Underground is done using our software and we also have hardware actually inside the vehicles.”

The firm also plays a key role in aviation commmunications.

Mr Isherwood said: “We work with Emirates airlines in Dubai. We work with Gatwick Airport as well. Our technology helps them to communicate with ground staff and emergency services should something go wrong or be anticipated as going wrong. Things that we don’t even think about, like fog and bird activity, that could risk the safety of flights and people on those flights.”