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Govt considers cross-agency radio network

Bill English, Judith Collins

22 June, 2011

Govt considers cross-agency radio network

The Government will investigate the feasibility of developing a Whole-of-Government Radio Network as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), Infrastructure Minister Bill English and Police Minister Judith Collins announced today.

Over the past three years the Government has funded Police to build a digital radio network in Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury to replace their existing analogue network.

The Government is now considering how to replace the multiple radio networks used by law enforcement, public safety and emergency management agencies across the whole of New Zealand.

“An effective and reliable radio network is essential for high-quality law enforcement, public safety and emergency management,” Mr English says.

“New Zealand does not currently have a radio network that operates across all agencies. The current infrastructure is fragmented, ageing and is not managed in a co-ordinated way. That can make it harder for agencies to work together, particularly in a major emergency.

"We are taking a whole-of-government view towards any new investment, to see how we can get maximum value for money for taxpayers.

"Based on an initial business case, Ministers believe a PPP would be likely to introduce the best financial incentives to maximise performance and minimise cost," Mr English says.

Ms Collins says the importance of radio communication was demonstrated during recent major earthquakes in Christchurch.

"The Police digital radio network played a major role in the co-ordination of emergency services following the quakes,” Ms Collins says.

“The key benefits of a Whole-of-Government Radio Network are likely to be better interoperability, better security, improved voice clarity, enhanced safety features and improved coverage.

“The initial business case also found there would be benefits in terms of reduced cost of crime, less death and injury, reduced property damage and better financial efficiency.

“The options analysed in the business case were technology and vendor neutral – that means it will be a level playing field for all potential providers with options based on business needs and outcomes rather than a specific technical solution,” Ms Collins says.

Officials will now develop a second more detailed business case, which they are expected to submit to Cabinet early next year.

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