The New Zealand Police (NZP) employs more than 10,000 staff around the country and uses a variety of vehicle types to police across a huge land area with different types of terrain.
The NZP radio network needed to be upgraded from their dated conventional analogue network to a trunked digital solution while also enabling the Police to continue doing their jobs effectively.
The NZP must always have the ability to communicate with emergency services providers and other government agencies, so the introduction of new secure radio system required a considerable amount of work to both plan and implement. It involves not only replacing the radios that officers use, but also replacing the backbone equipment which runs the NZP radio network nationwide.
The network consisted of 250-300 different VHF sites in the 70 MHz band (490 MHz UHF in the cities) transitioning to a similar number of 140 MHz trunked sites, and 490 MHz trunked sites for cities. Many of these sites are relatively inaccessible, so installation planning and the remote monitoring capability of the TB9100 is important.
A working group comprising Police, Fire, Ambulance, Customs, State Services Commission, Ministry of Economic Development, Fisheries and others had earlier selected the P25 standard, under the e-Government Interoperability Framework, as the most suitable for the New Zealand environment.
Starting with the replacement of their still-live analogue network to a TaitNet trunked P25 network in the main urban centers, the NZP gradually extended their network across the country. The Tait Communications P25 digital radios can successfully communicate in analogue mode, so the NZP could migrate to digital at a pace that suited them.
NZP's specialist groups nationwide were successfully migrated to the new digital network in late 2008. The Wellington region was the first area to get secure digital radio in June 2009, followed by Canterbury and Auckland by end of 2010.
The new NZP network is simple and open; deploying off-the-shelf components for greater value and ease of support. Project management and Tait Communications services ensured that milestones were aligned and that their return on investment was maximized.
The new encrypted digital trunked network means that no one can use scanners to find out the intentions or whereabouts of police frontline staff. This not only increases officer safety, but also the security and reliability of the NZP's radio communications network and gives more flexibility for special police operations. Security can also be better managed because of the advanced encryption on the TP9155/60 and TM9155s.
The new APCO P25 portable radios are more robust than the NZP's previous radios and have better audio quality with less interference. The portables include the TP9155s and TP9160s with Intrinsically Safe batteries, intelligent power management and a variety of accessories. The TM9155 mobile radios installed in police cars, vans and motorbikes include a mix of remote, fixed and hand-held control heads. The portables and mobiles share the same interface, so they are easy to use.
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Many astute network operators – including those who do not identify lack of frequency as a challenge – choose trunked technologies because they understand the compelling network and workforce management benefits.