UK police comms: In with the new...

Philip Mason looks at some of the public safety mobile working projects taking place ahead of the Emergency Services Network rollout

The UK’s TETRA-based public safety digital communications system Airwave is being replaced with a new LTE-enabled solution in the shape of the burgeoning Emergency Services Network. Despite several PR setbacks – not least the 2016 National Audit Office report describing the project as “inherently high risk” – things are now progressing in the right direction. (At least if the Home Office’s ESN update presentations at this year’s BAPCO show are to be believed).

The ESN is expected to demonstrate most value in its ability to facilitate mobile working for public safety personnel. This means providing (at the very minimum) dependable push-to-talk mirroring Airwave, but also the ability to share video footage, use cloud and app-based services, and access the internet.

While still months away from anything approaching full functionality, the ESN offers the tantalising prospect of both financial savings and improved real-time situational awareness. There are UK public safety organisations already taking advantage of 4G, however, contracting MNOs and device manufacturers to prepare their people for the coming technology revolution.

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