Innovating on mission critical platforms

Victoria's Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority operates the radio networks that help to despatch Police and Ambulance to emergencies. But the mission critical nature of this service is not stopping the agency from innovating on the platform that makes it possible.

Andrew Wellwood has one of those challenging jobs.  No day is exactly the same.

As the Acting CEO of Victoria’s Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) he is responsible for three centres that take in excess of 1.8 million triple zero calls each year. That’s a call every 17 seconds.

For the Ambulance Service, some 90% of incoming calls are expected to be answered within five seconds. Dispatch of the appropriate Emergency Service should occur in no more than 150 seconds.

Dispatch often relies on radio communications with emergency services vehicles in the field, which makes the equipment ESTA places in those vehicles mission critical.

Most organisations would, one imagines, keep that kind of kit as simple as possible.

But Wellwood wants to look at opportunities to innovate the services delivered on the mobile data platform.

“Even in mission critical environments you need to adapt to meet new Emergency Service and community demands,” he says. “For us, we can see the technology we use for mission critical applications having the potential to also assisting in other areas.”

“We have a very valuable resource in the mobile data terminals in police cars and ambulance and in addition to things like Police vehicle checks, perhaps that platform could be used in other productivity-enhancing roles.”

“How do we leverage the current services we deliver? How could we expand the current network and how could the agencies use applications they see could be beneficial for other requirements?”

Wellwood believes he can achieve innovation on his mission critical platforms for two reasons.

One is that his key supplier – Motorola – has a track record of delivering on complex projects, and he feels he has a relationship with the vendor that can make it work.

“We see Motorola is a key partner but we keep them accountable,” he says. “We are in a public/private partnership which is a long term approach to provide these types of services. It is a service-based contract, not a technology contract, and that has worked well for us.”

ESTA’s own discipline gives him another reason for confidence.

“We have a track record of success in major projects involving upgrade of our Mission Critical voice and data platforms in the last 18 months,” he says.

“You succeed through planning and the focus you put on those activities,” he says. “It does mean lead times need to take that into account, but we have had incredible success in the delivery of these services to date.”

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