Public safety: bumps in the road

Philip Mason reports on the development of the Ambulance Radio Programme’s new mobile data and vehicle solution, and how the process was complicated by new road safety legislation

There can be many potential reasons for public safety organisations to make the often disruptive decision to upgrade their communications technology. Those who have been following the Emergency Services Network saga, for instance, will know that cost is inevitably a major factor, with long-term savings continuing to be cited as a core reason for the switch from narrowband to broadband.

Then of course there is the ESN technology itself, which by any measure will likely be an upgrade on what the emergency services already have with the narrowband-based Airwave. Another organisation which is in the process of considerable change when it comes to its technology is the UK ambulance service.

A big part of this is obviously the switch to ESN at some point in the future, a change which, as with the other UK emergency services, has the potential to revolutionise business-as-usual operations.

At the same time, however, the Ambulance Radio Programme is also currently in the process of rolling out a replacement for the in-vehicle mobile data terminals used by paramedics in the field. This has, in very large part, obviously been prompted by the promise of a single, ubiquitous, public safety broadband network as discussed above.

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