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Victoria signs $261m deal to upgrade and extend radio network for emergency services

Public safety agencies including Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade will have their radio network upgraded with new data, location and safety features following a deal inked with provider Motorola Solutions.

Later this year, Victoria State Emergency Service, Corrections Victoria and Life Saving Victoria will also join the network.

Among the new features planned for rollout are a pilot of a new strategic interface for Triple Zero’s emergency call and dispatch systems, enabling emergency service agencies to access more services and data-based capabilities over time. It will also trial of a software-defined push-to-talk function to extend radio network access to more users via broadband.

The state’s contract management service, Partnerships Victoria of the Department of Treasury and Finance, has signed the seven-year $261 million Metropolitan Mobile Radio network (MMR) contract extension with Motorola Solutions. Personnel using the MMR made more than 40 million push-to-talk voice transmission calls across the network in 2017.

An ongoing debate in the global government radio networks community is whether to stick with dedicated separate networks for public safety personnel, or transition to carving out a layer on top of consumer networks. Driving this conversation is the increased utility that comes from greater data, especially live video for strategic command centres, but at a cost to reliability. If government decisions involving millions in infrastructure funding are never easy, this one is especially so — lives are, quite literally, on the line.

What these trials and the Australian experience more broadly is so far showing, is that the network approach need not be an either-or decision for governments. There are providers willing to invest and innovate in adapting existing government radio networks to make better use of data and video in mission critical communications, and develop the interfaces so non-radio users can also access the systems via broadband too.

Motorola Solutions’ contract with the State of Victoria contains an additional opportunity to extend for a further five years, which would bring the total duration beyond 20 years.

The company also flexed its ability to rollout high volume dedicated communication networks with an international profile at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games this month. Organising staff supporting the games made around 20,000 push-to-talk calls per hour across the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville games venues.

Author Bio

Harley Dennett

Harley Dennett is editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's held communications roles in the New South Wales public sector and Defence, and been a staff reporter for newspapers in Sydney and Washington DC.