Digital radio network helps secure Western Australia

Friday, 30 January, 2009

The Western Australia Police (WAPOL) recently upgraded its radio communications infrastructure to a secure, encrypted digital voice network with a separate data radio network, in order to better protect the citizens of Western Australia.

WAPOL is responsible for the largest single police jurisdiction in the world: an area of 2.5 million km2 with 5000 police officers and 1000 police staff serving a community of 1.9 million residents.

In 2002, an independent review found that WAPOL’s 30-year-old analog voice radio network was reaching the end of its lifespan and recommended replacement by the end of 2007 to avoid significant risk of service disruption.

Consequently, in July 2003 WAPOL established the $58 million Police Metropolitan Radio Network (PMRN) project, to design a new system in accordance with the review’s recommendations.

WAPOL partnered with Fujitsu Australia, Motorola Australia and Ansaldo STS (previously Union Switch & Signal) to devise a solution.

The voice and data radio networks comprising the solution were successfully commissioned for operational trial on schedule in December 2006 and the full rollout commenced in May 2007.

Under the new system, police officers use an encrypted, secure voice radio network; have access to police operational data in their vehicles; and the locations of all tasking vehicles will be known to the Police Operations Centre at any given time through the Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system.

According to acting superintendent (Communications Infrastructure Program) Lance Martin, a comparison to performance baselines established to assess the new tools reveals the system has had a significant positive effect.

“Average incident response times have dropped by 25%, and in the CBD 18-minute response times have been reduced to 12 minutes,” Martin says.

For instance, traffic officers are reporting an increase in the identification of unlicensed vehicles and drivers through the use of the mobile data solution.

Also, dispatchers are able to deploy support quickly to officers requiring assistance in violent situations, thanks to a combination of the AVL technology and GPS technology. The system transmits GPS coordinates and vehicle identifiers to be displayed on a tactical mapping facility at the Police Communications Centre.

It also enables the viewing of historical movements of vehicles by replaying logged GPS coordinates. In addition, it provides detailed reporting and audit trail capabilities and dynamic position polling of vehicles.

“These results are boosting community confidence and the new network completely changes the business in terms of dispatching,” Martin said.

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