Max Corney, communications manager at West Midlands Police, said the new network is "cost-neutral" because the force only has to pay for installation. Day-to-day costs are the same as for the existing network.
The force is moving from 2mbps leased circuits and separate voice and data networks to a converged voice and data 1,000mbps Gigabit Ethernet infrastructure using 3Com equipment. Corney highlighted the savings the force would make by managing one converged network instead of two.
Explaining the operational importance of the network, Corney said, "We are moving to a 'sector policing' strategy where officers need fast access from any local station [to a central database]. At the moment all we have is slow speed to everywhere."
Aside from speeding up everyday network requirements the network will be able to handle bandwidth-hungry operations such as video streaming from helicopter-mounted cameras and high street CCTV systems.
Leading-edge switching equipment will allow the creation of virtual Lans, giving enhanced security and allowing bandwidth to be apportioned to priority traffic.