Delivering public safety technology in SEQ

Excellent emergency services are designed to protect us, however it’s a service we would prefer not to use.

When we need help, it’s reassuring to know that our first responders — police, firefighters and ambulance — will be ready and armed with the right information, equipment and support to save us. Getting this right saves time and money, but most importantly, it saves lives.

In the past, emergency services communicated using dedicated agency analogue radio networks, resulting in a number of separate and disjointed radio networks in Queensland. Patchy coverage would often make radio communications difficult for emergency services crews when they most needed to communicate. And communicating with other agencies by radio was not possible.

The Government Wireless Network (GWN) has addressed these challenges. The GWN is an integrated digital wireless network allowing emergency service officers in South East Queensland to quickly and securely share information when responding to events and incidents.

In 2016, the network was rolled out to support more than 17,500 emergency services staff across South East Queensland; resulting in Australia’s first secure, fully-integrated, digital radio communications platform.

Karen Brierley, a Communications Operator at Beenleigh Police Communications Centre is very impressed with the change the GWN has had on operations.

“Poor radio reception — static and difficulty in hearing — was previously an increasingly frustrating part of our day-to-day work. It impacted resource allocation and, potentially, officer safety. The GWN means we can more readily locate a crew, communicate with them clearly and make the best resource allocation decision. It reduces the chance of miscommunication and improves officer safety,” she said.

Rolling out the network was an impressive undertaking, involving the installation of cutting-edge technology for Police, Fire and Ambulance. The project was delivered by Telstra, as our implementation partner, which was awarded a 15-year contract in September 2013 to manage the network and all associated radio equipment.

The GWN statistics are impressive:

  • establishing 183 radio sites
  • 3104 police, fire and ambulance vehicles, aircraft and watercraft were fitted with 5834 mobile radios (some vehicles require dual radios)
  • deployment of 7855 portable radios to frontline personnel
  • Installation of 203 Fixed Station Terminals
  • Installation of 130 communication centre dispatch consoles.

The GWN delivers many benefits that increase the capability of our emergency services:

  • Interoperability: because emergency services are on the same network there are no communications delays. Personnel from each service can now talk securely and directly to each other. It means emergency service officers can share information and intelligence when working together, and can coordinate their operations to enhance response times and increase efficiency.
  • Improved personal safety: the GWN technology supports GPS-enabled duress alarms to improve the safety of our emergency services workers. At the press of a button emergency workers can alert central command of their location and help can be dispatched immediately. Open Microphone technology allows Communication Centre Operators to hear what is occurring in the immediate vicinity of the duress event, which increases the potential for optimal officer outcomes in difficult situations.
  • Information security and privacy protection: GWN communication is encrypted. Police and emergency services personnel can share sensitive information securely, without the threat of critical communications being intercepted.

With a nation-leading digital solution that has transformed the way Queensland public safety agencies communicate, Queenslanders can be confident they are in safe hands.

Visit qld.gov.au/DIGITAL1ST to read about other Queensland Government initiatives that put people at the heart of digital services.

DIGITAL1ST is our strategy that outlines the Queensland Government’s overarching approach to delivering great digital services.