Page 16 - HOT NEWS March 2017
P. 16

Communications system set to shake up the Airwave
An advanced new communications system aimed at helping all three emergency services carry out their duties more efficiently and cost effectively is set to replace Airwave.
The system, called the Emergency Services Network (ESN) has been developed through the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme and will offer emergency services in England, Scotland and Wales an affordable and flexible method of communicating.
Operated through EE’s enhanced 4G mobile network, ESN will give emergency services priority use allowing police, fire and ambulance to work collaboratively and efficiently.
Although led by the Home Office, the Programme has seen input from emergency services in England, Scotland and Wales to determine functionality and define the requirements of the system.
The nationwide network is believed to be the most up-to-date public safety communications system in the world, and is expected to be implemented once rigorous trials are complete.
Mark Jones, Station Manager (Strategic Change) is one of the representatives that has been heavily involved in the Programme consultations, and believes ESN will help Firefighters, and other blue light personnel, carry out their roles more effectively.
He said: “Communication is key to the work we do and it’s vital we have the most advanced systems possible to help us carry out our duties to the best of our abilities.
“The Airwave system has not developed since it was first installed in the early 2000s and it has become increasingly outdated compared to modern smartphones and 4G networks.
“It cannot support the delivery of broadband data, which is becoming much more integral to emergency service operations.
“ESN will be a more capable, flexible and affordable communications network than Airwave and will help the emergency services work together, and share information, more effectively.
“As well as better coverage than Airwave, ESN will provide broadband-speed data services and still deliver crucial voice communication.
“This is a complex and challenging undertaking and only after it has been thoroughly tested and users are satisfied that it works, and is safe, will ESN be implemented.
“Although this is cutting-edge technology, the Programme
has always been clear that it will not take any risks with public safety and so Airwave will continue until the emergency services have completed transition on to ESN.”
KEY FACTS
• ESN will rely on EE’s 4G mobile network which will be enhanced to provide the public safety features, coverage and resilience that the three emergency services require.
• The project is being led by the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP), a dedicated team in the Home Office, together with emergency services in England, Scotland and Wales and core suppliers EE and Motorola to deliver the new network.
• ESN will provide wide-area geographic coverage for vehicles along major and minor roads, in both rural and subterranean locations such as tunnels and railways, and allow for marine and air-to- ground communications.
• Phone masts will be erected by EE in the most remote areas of England, Scotland and Wales to ensure the network can be used by the emergency services; this will also benefit members of the public as mobile network coverage will be brought to areas previously not covered.
• The transition from Airwave to ESN will be carefully planned to maintain the operational capability of emergency services, allowing them to carry out their vital work while the changeover takes place.
For further information please email:
ESMCPComms@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
The new Emergency Services Network will provide emergency services with the most advanced communications system of its kind.
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