Motorola signs AU$175m emergency network deal with SA

Motorola Solutions Australia has inked a AU$175 million seven-year deal with the South Australian government for the upgrade and management of its emergency services wireless network.
Written by Leon Spencer, Contributor

The South Australian government has signed a AU$175 million seven-year deal with Motorola Solutions Australia for the upgrade and management of its government radio network (SAGRN).

The government radio network is used for communications by more than 20 public agencies, including the metropolitan fire services, police, ambulance, and the state emergency services.

The deal, which has an option to extend for another five years, will see the US-based data and telecommunications equipment provider lead the SAGRN upgrade project, with support from specialised service partners, some of which will be local to the state. The network is set to provide 99.999 percent availability to emergency services, according to the company.

"The South Australian government is making a significant investment to give our emergency services secure and reliable voice communications," said South Australia Emergency Services Minister Tony Piccolo. "This will support them from their day-to-day operational activities through to times of emergency or crisis.

"Not only will the SAGRN upgrade deliver a safer community for all South Australians, but [it will] also provide local economic and employment benefits," he said.

Piccolo said that Motorola has confirmed around 25 new full-time equivalent positions will be created in the state during the upgrade and ongoing management of the SAGRN, as well as a direct investment of nearly AU$40 million in locally based industries.

Included in the SAGRN upgrade will be additional transmission sites to deliver substantial voice radio or paging coverage improvements at locations like Gilbert Valley, Northern Flinders Ranges, Meningie, the Adelaide Hills, Mintaro, Yorke Peninsula, and Kingston.

The network proposed under the contract will be an open-standard, Project 25 network supported by integrated voice and data capabilities. The Association of Public Safety Communications Officials Project 25, also known as APCO-25, is an open standard for digital radio developed in the United States for use by federal, state, and local public safety agencies in North America.

Motorola Solutions said that system integration works for the SAGRN proposed in the deal will help provide South Australia with new infrastructure for voice, dispatch consoles, call logging, network linking, and paging.

It will be one of the largest networks of its kind in Australia, and will support over 20,000 users with more than 200 transmission sites covering 220,000 square kilometres throughout South Australia, the company said.

"Motorola Solutions is delivering a new SAGRN that draws from our experience working closely with local public safety agencies for more than 30 years," said Motorola Solutions Australia and New Zealand managing director Steve Crutchfield. "We're applying that knowledge in a way that enables agencies to concentrate on keeping South Australian communities safe, while we meet their needs for highly secure and reliable communications."

Work on the upgrade project will commence within the week, and it is expected to be completed by September 2017.

The new deal follows calls by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Justice Minister Michael Keenan late last year for the Productivity Commission to work out how best to deliver mobile broadband capability for the country's law-enforcement and emergency services.

In November, the Department of Communications called on the Productivity Commission to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the best way to deliver a mobile broadband capability for Australia's law-enforcement and emergency services.

The Productivity Commission was tasked with undertaking a "first principles" analysis of the most efficient and effective way of delivering such a capability by 2020, including the most cost-effective combination of private and public inputs, services, and expertise.

Motorola Solutions' contract with the SA government comes as NEC Australia announces a multimillion-dollar telephony solutions and services contract with Victoria's Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA).

The AU$11 million seven-year deal will see the local arm of the Japanese tech giant replace the Telstra telephony systems handling Victoria's triple zero emergency call service, which last year took 2.4 million calls for help across police, fire, State Emergency Service, and ambulance, according to the government.

Victorian Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett said the contract will deliver a strong communications platform to provide the state with a continuous, reliable triple zero service. The current system has been in use for more than a decade.

"We're making this investment to ensure that when you dial triple zero, you can depend on it. The new system will bring in the latest technology and ensure reliable services now and into the future," said Garrett.

NEC Australia will manage the enhancements for a fully integrated communications solution for the state government, including email routing and management, web chat routing, short message service routing, social media routing, mobile applications, and agent desktop tools.

The new deal builds upon the company's existing contracts with Australia's public sector, including the AU$55 million multi-year end-user computing deal it inked with the Northern Territory government late last year.

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