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BlackBerry Provides a Glimpse of the Future at AWS Toronto Summit

Attendees of the recent 2023 Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in Toronto were treated to a bird’s eye view of BlackBerry’s past, present, and future during a keynote address by BlackBerry’s Chief Elite Customer Success Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Head of Sustainability, Neelam Sandhu. Sandhu, who joined the company in 2009, has been a key player in the Canada-based firm’s transition from a hardware manufacturer to an Internet of Things (IoT) and Enterprise software leader, a metamorphosis she describes as more evolutionary than revolutionary.

“BlackBerry was founded on the premise that humans have an inherent need to connect, and that connectivity, as well as being reliable, must be secure and private to be sustainable,” Sandhu says, adding that the company’s foundational vision has never wavered. She notes that BlackBerry’s first invention, a secure retail point-of-sale terminal, was actually a pioneering design that helped open up the IoT — long before the term was coined. A few innovations later came the BlackBerry smartphone that changed the way we live and work. Today, BlackBerry continues to be innovation-led, with a continued focus on connectivity, security, and privacy.

Some of these innovations are affecting the day-to-day lives and livelihoods of people in communities around the world. One such case Sandhu describes is that of BlackBerry® AtHoc®, a mass notification and communications management system widely used by public agencies, military branches, and private industries, at the local, state, national, and international levels.

When natural disasters or other critical situations occur, it is often AtHoc in the hands of officials that notifies affected stakeholders. Sandhu emphasizes that how we react, and our ability to mobilize in these situations, is paramount, and the BlackBerry technology supporting emergency services and organizations like the Red Cross highlights the company’s commitment “as a software company that is enabling a sustainable and resilient world, both today and into the future.”

Sandhu elaborated that this work goes beyond words and translates directly into action. One of those actions is BlackBerry’s carbon neutral status — achieved in 2021 and maintained today — established as a commitment to sustainability that is “broader than just climate action. A sustainable world is one that is increasingly connected, and equitably so, and that connectivity must be secure,” she says.

“And I think we can all agree that BlackBerry knows a thing or two about connectivity and security,” she quips.

Sandhu outlines the inspiration behind BlackBerry’s sustainability strategy, spurred by water insecurity and flood risks faced by over 1.5 billion of the world’s population. A key outcome of this strategy has been a first-of-its-kind flood risk and water quality monitoring solution based on BlackBerry AtHoc. AtHoc leverages innovative technologies to collect and process massive amounts of sensor data, and generates alerts based on those insights. This solution lives in the AWS cloud across five regions, and delivers very low latency messaging for mass communications by utilizing several Amazon services including EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service), Lambda, and DynamoDB. Its high availability, resilience, and fault tolerance meets the mandate for technology used in mission-critical situations.

This robust example of how BlackBerry is combining its core capabilities in IoT and embedded systems with industry-leading, AI-driven security, connectivity, and communications solutions — with the goal of solving difficult real-world problems — is indicative of where BlackBerry is headed next, Sandhu says. “Our future is deeply rooted in the convergence of enterprise IT and operational technology. Without trust in both security and privacy, the IoT market might plateau — a situation that could contribute to us being unable to unlock the ultimate value the IoT can offer to solve the world’s toughest challenges.”

Recently recognized by McKinsey & Company as a leader in It/IoT convergence, BlackBerry stands ready to help bridge the current “trust deficit” that is reigning in innovation and forestalling the arrival of a trusted, connected future.

One of BlackBerry’s key ingredients for realizing the promise of convergence is BlackBerry® QNX®, the company’s real-time operation system, which was recently made available on AWS Graviton. “This leap forward for embedded IoT has simplified development and deployment for IoT solutions, so developers can leverage the powerful APIs, SDKs, and tools provided by both platforms to accelerate their IoT projects, reduce time to market, and focus on creating value-added applications and services.”

Another important convergence use case is BlackBerry IVY® an intelligent, edge-to-cloud, software data platform for vehicles and "smart city” infrastructure that BlackBerry co-developed with AWS. “The possibilities of IVY are endless. By harnessing the wealth of sensor data generated across a smart city, IVY enables OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to extract valuable insights using anonymized user data…to enhance consumer experiences and create new value,” Sandhu says. “It’s a testament to the potential unleashed when cutting-edge technologies and companies come together.”

To learn more about these advances, and to see Sandhu’s address in its entirety, watch the video below:

Learn More at the Upcoming BlackBerry Summit

Sandhu’s recent keynote is only a glimpse of what BlackBerry has in store. The upcoming BlackBerry Summit, taking place in New York City on October 17, 2023, will bring technology visionaries together with trailblazing customers and partners, for a day of precedent-setting keynotes, presentations, demos, and discussions spanning both IoT and enterprise cybersecurity product innovations.

Mark your calendar today and make plans to meet at

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Noah Campbell

About Noah Campbell

Noah Campbell was previously a Senior Elite Technical Marketing Specialist at BlackBerry.