Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning, VIC, Australia

Communications are a crucial part of effective bushfire response. Upgrading communications infrastructure enhances the capability of our emergency services to protect communities and firefighting personnel from bushfire.

Ryan Smith - Victoria's Minister for Environment and Climate Change

The Client

The Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning (DELWP) is a Victorian Government department focused on protecting the environment including public and private land, and water for the people of the state of Victoria, and managing the State's natural resources. DELWP provides responsive services to emergencies such as fires and floods.

Situation

The 2009 "Black Saturday" bushfires in Melbourne, Victoria, resulted in a number of Government enquiries including the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission. Recommendation 22 from this Royal Commission called for DELWP and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) to standardize their operating, information, and communications systems and technologies. A standardized approach would achieve greater efficiency and interoperability between these agencies.

DELWP is responsible for the Network Emergency Organizations (NEO) radio terminal fleet, comprising DELWP, Parks Victoria, VicForests and Melbourne Water. The NEO fleet was 19 years old and a new fleet was required to interoperate with the neighboring agencies and would address, in part, recommendation 22.

Response

Following an extensive tender process, a Telstra-led consortium with Tait Communications and AA Radio won the radio replacement contract to help make Victoria's emergency services personnel and Victorian communities safer, with state-of-the-art, open standards-based radios.

6,000 Tait VHF 9480 series mobile and portable radios will be installed in firefighting vehicles, aircraft, incident control centers, fire towers and work centers throughout Victoria, Australia. Installation is scheduled for completion ahead of the 2014/15 fire season.

The new 9480 series radios are compatible with the existing DELWP / CFA communications infrastructure, the Victorian State Mobile Radio trunked network, and DELWP / CFA Incident Channel Networks and fire-ground communications. Interoperability with State Emergency Services (SES) and bordering states' communications systems has also been incorporated.

The new multi-mode 9480 series radios (conventional analog, MPT 1327 and P25) are open standards-based and allow for an easy transition to the new P25 emergency service standards and planned digital future for Victorian communications networks."Each radio unit will be equipped with a GPS tracking system enabling incident managers to track the location of vehicles and firefighters in real time - improving fire-ground operations, logistics and firefighter safety," said Ryan Smith, Victoria's Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

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