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NSW gets $217 million boost for emergency communications

New South Wales has received $217 million to be spent to develop and enhance coverage of its emergency communications.

The $217 million investment will expand the Government Radio Network and build a Public Safety Network for Emergency Services Organisations.

The NSW Government Radio Network (GRN) was established to provide a common platform for NSW government agencies and authorities who use mobile radio communications.

It is one of the larger trunked radio networks in the world, covering approximately 266,000 square kilometres including the Sydney Basin and adjacent areas.

The funding will enable the NSW Telco Authority to accelerate the Critical Communications Enhancement Program to reach 96% of populated areas. This funding is in addition to the more than $401 million allocated to the upgrade of the GRN since 2016.

The funding will enable 70 agency radio networks to be consolidated into one, allowing vital information to be shared more efficiently and better protect first responders.

The GRN will be expanded across:

  • Southern NSW to provide greater coverage to Holbrook, Tarcutta, Gundagai and Albury
  • Northern NSW to provide improved coverage to Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield, Ben Lomond, Moree and Warialda.

Network coverage will expand to other regions including the North Coast, Griffith and Wagga Wagga.

The grants will also see the Critical Communications Enhancement Program accelerated to enable the GRN to reach 96% of populated areas in NSW.

The Critical Communications Enhancement Program is delivering an enhanced, Government Radio Network to improve emergency and day-to-day operational communications for a wide range of NSW Government agencies, including public safety, law enforcement and essential services.

The investment will strengthen communities and better protect first responders according to the Minister for Customer Service.

The Minister stated that the radio network played a critical role in protecting communities and supporting the Rural Fire Service, Police, Fire and Rescue, Ambulance and the State Emergency Service during the recent bushfires.

NSW Government Radio Network falls under the NSW Telco Authority Advisory Board. The Authority leads to sector-wide reform and delivery of government operational communications to enable stakeholders to better respond to the NSW community.

In this role, the Authority identifies, develops, delivers and procures operational communications services to meet the needs of its customers, in partnership with government agencies and industry.

At the core of the Authority’s service delivery is meeting the day-to-day and mission-critical operational communications needs of government agencies and essential services.

This includes managing the NSW Government Radio Network which provides radio communications for Emergency Services Organisations (ESOs) and other government agencies.

A more ‘agile’ government

It was earlier reported that The New South Wales government gave its new Customer Service Department millions to work with, in the state’s 2019-20 Budget; the new department will result in a more “agile” government.

10 departments will be reduced to eight, with the Customer Service cluster now including Service NSW, the Long Service Corporation, the Rental Bond Board, the State Insurance Regulatory Authority, and the New South Wales Government Telecommunications Authority.

While the nation’s frontline is again boosted, we will drive more efficiencies in our back-office and contingent labour expenses across government.

Spending on consultants and contractors will also be reduced, bonuses for the highest-paid department executives will be abolished and long-service leave benefits will be brought into line with community standards.

The department will have AU$100 million over the next two years to establish a Digital Restart Fund to support whole-of-government digital transformation.

The seed funding of AU$100 million will fund a whole-of-government digital transformation that the Budget papers [PDF] say will enhance customer experiences.

The transformation, the NSW government said, will include promoting the adoption of common platforms across government to remove duplication and increase efficiency.

The government is going to continue to make people’s lives easier through a focus on digital government.

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