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New Zealand’s Public Safety Network to Get Significant Digital Boost

The Police Minister announced that the government will roll out a new phase of the country’s public safety network, which he described as the most significant advancement in New Zealand’s public safety communications in a decade. It is a new phase of digital communications for emergency service workers and will be launched next year.

The Public Safety Network will deliver emergency services with a single secure digital radio network and greatly improved mobile broadband access. According to a press statement, the technologies will help meet the ever-increasing data and information needs of frontline staff as they serve the community. The goal is to create a new secure digital communications network that supports the operational capabilities of the country’s emergency services.

New Zealand’s Emergency Services is made up of around 35,000 staff and volunteers who attend over five million calls for help every year. They require the tools and infrastructure to be able to respond at any time, and in any part of New Zealand. This will only be possible with accurate and timely information. The new network will serve front-line emergency responders for decades to come, the statement claimed.

The digital boost to the Public Safety Network required a significant collaborative effort among the four emergency services, and it will be used by Police, Fire and Emergency NZ, Hato Hone St John, and Wellington Free Ambulance. It will enable them to communicate with each other more effectively during emergency incidents. It could be expanded for other government users in the future. The Public Safety Network is made up of:

Digital Land Mobile Radio: a digital radio network built with sufficient resilience to enable emergency services to communicate even in the event of a significant natural disaster. Land Mobile Radio supports push-to-talk communications which are used extensively by emergency services, and provides location services, is encrypted and secure.

Priority Cellular and Roaming Services: these services improve existing cellular network coverage resilience through a multi-network solution and allows sharing of information through apps. Emergency communications will take priority over other mobile users on cellular networks when the networks are congested or degraded.

Personal Alerting: personal alerting service will be provided over a stabilised paging network, which is critical for emergency responses in remote communities supported by volunteers.

These technologies will allow emergency services to reliably communicate with each other and prioritise cellular services and roaming, which will increase connectedness to mobile broadband for responders, especially at times when mobile networks are congested or degraded. The infrastructure investment will also enhance the efficiency of emergency services during earthquake disasters and climate-related emergencies.

Delivering the Public Safety Network is a significant infrastructure project, investing $1.4 billion over ten years to build and operate the network, roll out new devices to emergency services staff, stations and vehicles, and decommission the existing network. Emergency services will start transitioning to Cellular Services from mid–2023 and Land Mobile Radio as a regional rollout in 2024.

The country has a number of tech-enabled solutions to boost both economic growth and serve citizens. Recently, the Fisheries Amendment Bill, which passed its final reading recently, aims to strengthen and modernise the management of the country’s fisheries. According to the Oceans and Fisheries Minister, David Parker, the Bill will help keep the ocean and coastal ecosystems healthy and resilient while supporting the role of fisheries.

The Minister of Transport, Michael Woods, announced the new National Ticketing Solution (NTS)  which provides a single payment system and a range of easy-to-use payment methods for public transport, including buses, trains, and ferries. The NTS will be rolled out in a stage process across the different public transport authorities, starting with Environment Canterbury in 2024.

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