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  1. Outdated kit, patchy service and incompatible computer systems are needlessly hindering criminal investigations. Date - 31st January 2019 By - Martin Buhagiar - Police Oracle 1 Comment Just 50 per cent of the UK’s police officers believe they can rely on the information held on their forces’ computer systems. Meanwhile less than two thirds (65 per cent) can access a computer at work when they need to, the National Police ICT User Survey has revealed. The Police Federation says it paints a damning picture of the growing frustration felt by frontline officers, with outdated kit, patchy service and incompatible computer systems needlessly hindering criminal investigations and affecting their ability to do the job. The survey also found: nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of officers were unhappy with the quality and timing of training they needed to use the equipment 55 per cent were not happy with their force’s overall ICT only 30 per cent felt their force invested wisely in technology just two per cent were completely satisfied with their ICT services. Simon Kempton, the Federation’s IT lead, spoke recently about “the near-farcical state of the police service’s relationship with technology”, and said the overall picture was not a pretty one, with officers trying to fight crime using out-of-date equipment and systems which were often incompatible across neighbouring forces. “Procurement is also a massive issue, with millions being wasted on the wrong equipment,” said Mr Kempton. “As one superintendent in the survey puts it, they take years developing systems which too often fail to deliver, when off-the-shelf products would do in 80-90 per cent of cases.” Poor training provision was highlighted, as was pointless duplication, with officers forced to input the same data multiple times on separate systems. “In 2018 – when we are surrounded by virtual reality products, people are using driverless cars and robots are carrying out life-saving operations – this lack of joined-up functionality in policing is a disgrace,” continued Mr Kempton, who was also concerned about the disparity between the way frontline officers and senior management were treated. “Policing is not 9 to 5, it’s 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, and requires 24-hour solutions. Not only do senior officers seem to have access to better equipment, but in many cases they get their problems ironed out a lot quicker too. That’s no good for busy response teams at 2am who are told their IT help desk went home at 5pm.” Nearly 4,000 officers of all ranks and police staff took part in the PFEW-sponsored survey, commissioned by police governance organisation CoPaCC, which said that while there had been a slight improvement on last year – for example, in providing more mobile devices – on the whole it was still the same picture and more needed to be done. Meanwhile the Emergency Services Network (ESN) programme may not come online until 2022 at the earliest. The Fed has previously criticised the ESN radio programme but while the Public Accounts Committee was recently informed that the system was delayed, the permanent secretary in charge, Sir Philip Rutnam, denied the programme had “run into the wall”. Mr Kempton accused the Home Office of “putting its head in the sand” over the ESN disaster, which is due to replace the old Airwave system and has an overspend of more than £1billion. “It is good that the Government is now being challenged by MPs who have heard the horror stories, but the committee is just highlighting what we have been saying for years,” he said. View On Police Oracle
  2. Concern huge costs will be passed on to police. Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey Date - 8th October 2018 By - JJ Hutber- Police Oracle 5 Comments One of the senior leaders in the Metropolitan Police says police chiefs’ confidence in the long-delayed radio network is waning. The Emergency Services Network (ESN) was supposed to take over from Airwave in 2017 and complete in 2019. But a Home Office announcement last month revealed Airwave may be online until at least the end of 2022. Emergency services will be free to test and choose which ESN products they want as they become available instead of waiting for the entire network to be implemented, the Home Office said. MPS Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey, who is expected to retire later this year, said he was anxious about the extra costs the delays will generate for police forces at a meeting of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee. “We need a radio system to be able to operate in London,” he said. “We are worried and concerned. This is one of those major programmes that has an impact on our budget but it also has a real operational impact in terms of what it does. “It hits us in cost in a number of ways. Through the deputy mayor at the moment we’ve just approved replacement of existing handsets. The radios officers carry at the moment are reaching the end of their life. “We had thought we were going to have a new system so we’ve had to start investing money already in replacing until we get to the new system. “At some point we will have to twin run twin tracks. Realistically for us I suspect that’s somewhere beyond 2020 now in terms of time scales and clearly that will drive real cost into what we’re doing.” He said the issue was at the top of the agenda at a Chief Constables’ Council meeting earlier this week. DC Mackey says he is sceptical police can be spared from the extra costs which will come attached to the delays. “If it just comes into the Home Office topslice yes it’s on a different budget line but our budget line goes down anyway.” Although he said he could only speculate on what the true costs will total, he would expect the bill for running two systems simultaneously to come at a price of hundreds of millions of pounds. “The other issue which I think will only get proper visibility when we get settled on the settlement in December for 19/20, a lot of central savings across policing were built on when you get this new system you’ll get data, you’ll get this and you’ll be able to take savings out of your key budget lines. “Of course with the delays that’s at least another two years before those sort of savings arise so all in all it’s an incredibly complicated picture. “Delivery confidence is something we are pushing quite hard, to say we need much better delivery confidence and visibility.” When asked whether ESN is ever going to work he responded: “I genuinely don’t know is the answer to that.” He added: “We as a police service need our confidence raised in this. If someone keeps presenting a programme that keeps slipping more and more to the right your confidence is going to decrease more than if you came out at the start and said this is going to take five years. “In an ideal world we’d be on another system by now. “There are still some big unanswered questions. So things like will it work on the underground, on radio coverage. “It’s very hard to be a phased implementation. You think of trying to manage the risks managing a proactive kidnap operation with firearms who are moving around south east England in and out of London and there’s an actual threat to life and the two radios don’t work. “I don’t know how you’d begin to manage something like that.” Deputy Mayor for policing and crime in London Sophie Linden said she is writing to the government to say the MPS must not pick up extra costs because of the delays. “At the minute the Home Secretary and ministers in relation to the spending review are indicating very strongly that they are very minded to look at more national projects and this will enable police forces to have more savings and that’s the way the sort of direction of travel of the spending review. “It fills me with real concern because they cannot deliver this and they’ve been trying for years.” View On Police Oracle
  3. Push-to-talk functionality on the London Underground has been a hard won police radio capability, but its future on the new LTE network faces serious hurdles. Gary Mason reports. It is somewhat ironic that in a multi-billion pound public safety communication project investing in cutting edge long-term evolution (LTE) technology, a major sticking point is the reliability of push-to-talk voice messages – a capability that has been around since the days of analogue police radios. This is just the latest problem facing the Emergency Services Network (ESN) project, which at least two recent reports have predicted would not be ready on time. This means the existing system, Airwave, is expected to be maintained for an unknown period after its expensive contract with the Home Office and the UK’s blue light first-responder services expires. Police concerns about the voice function on the new LTE handsets, whenever they emerge, have been highlighted in the latest Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report, published in January. Push-to-talk allows users to contact their colleagues with only the press of one button. The function must be reliable and work in remote areas – not just rural environments, but also the underground tunnels of the metro systems in London and Glasgow. Devices with the appropriate levels of robustness, voice and dual-mode capabilities are currently under development. The Home Office told the PAC it had already received prototype devices and was confident a good selection would be available for users to choose from by next year. But the devil, as usual, is in the detail. Some of the technical challenges in developing mission critical push-to-talk capability on LTE handsets were spelled out in oral evidence to the committee. Under the terms of the ESN contract with the Home Office, Motorola Solutions is responsible for delivering user services, such as data centres, help desks and SIM card management. While the scope of its contract does not include devices, Vincent Kennedy, vice-president and general manager of Motorola Solutions UK, gave the committee an insight into some of the technical challenges that had emerged with prototype LTE handsets. Push-to-talk latency The ESN envisages two types of device that will run on the network: 4G data devices and voice devices. The 4G handsets can attach to the new network relatively easily, but voice handling is more complex. “When you move the voice service on to a commercial mobile phone network, the device has to act in a specialised way,” Kennedy told the committee. “If I picked up my phone and dialled your number, it would take a few seconds to ring. It might take six seconds to you or five seconds [to someone else]. In this world, when I am the commander of a team at a firearms incident and I press the button on the device and say, “Don’t fire”, you instantly all have to hear the same thing. It is a big problem if you hear, “Don’t fire”, and another person hears, “Fire.” That is just an example, but the voice piece makes the device more specialised, and it has to work in a special way.” The technical term for this issue is push-to-talk latency. Police using the system need to be confident that the latency can be low enough with 4G that it won’t be a problem, and that the voice message received by everyone during an incident will be as near to instantaneous as possible, which it isn’t right now. Kennedy said Motorola been investing in the research and development of mobile LTE technology for public safety since 2010. He said: “It [LTE] is where the public safety market is going. They will eventually all be using mobile broadband, mobile data and voice. If it works to design, the latency can be solved, but that is why the design is so strict around the devices and the network.” He told the committee that the latency issue can currently be proved in a lab environment, but it needed to be tested in the field under extreme conditions. A testing regime will continue all through the spring and summer. Operational trials could commence in the autumn of 2017 and will go on for several months. “These are big technology projects, but they are not like regular IT projects. The people who use this technology – their lives depend on the technology working,” he added. The example Kennedy gave during the committee hearings bears a chilling reminder of the shooting of electrician Jean Charles de Menezes by Met firearms officers in July 2005 at Stockwell underground station after he was mistaken for a terrorist suspect. At the inquest into the killing, a firearms officer told the court he could have missed important messages over the radio and told the inquest that the signal was weak, faint and fuzzy and would sometimes cut out altogether. Given such real life examples, why has the Home Office chosen to go with unproven technology? In a previous report published last year outlining problems with the ESN project the National Audit Office said that it is ambitious and the first of its kind in the world. A world first Other countries are pursuing solutions either fully or partly based on older terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA) technology and dedicated networks, such as Airwave. The Home Office told the PAC that, in an ideal world, it would not want to be first to adopt unproven technology. But it considered that the other options it had for replacing Airwave, such as a hybrid system that uses radio for voice communications and 4G mobile for data, were “equally risky” and that it had to consider a wide range of financial, operational, technological and legal factors when making its decision. The programme also faces a number of other technical challenges. The new system will operate across a commercial 4G network requiring new software to allow emergency services users priority over commercial customers. EE, who have been awarded the network contract, told the committee it had completed system testing to prove the prioritisation technology would work and that during an emergency its network would be able to prioritise all 300,000 emergency service users, if necessary. Meanwhile, Motorola has responsibility for setting the specifications and approving devices for use on the ESN. Since it is also a supplier of devices, the Home Office told the PAC committee it had “been very careful to make sure the specifications do not exclude other providers and are not bespoke. It is a standards-based process”. One of the biggest risks with the new system is ensuring coverage in remote areas and in hard to reach places, such as the London Underground. The Home Office says that using 4G mobile data technology instead of radio opens up more options for plugging gaps in coverage, such as by using temporary masts. Time is a factor Discussions are still ongoing between the Home Office and Transport for London (TfL) on how best to extend coverage into the Underground, as well as contingencies and options for the transition process. The Home Office hopes to make an announcement in the next couple of months on this issue. Time is a factor, since the rollout of the ESN is just two years away. If TfL cannot roll-out the technology in that time, the Home Office would need to agree an alternative solution with TfL. This is a crucial issue for the police and fire service in London in particular, as a fully functioning emergency services communications system was a hard fought and long awaited upgrade. The lack of such a system was first highlighted by the inquiry into the response to the King’s Cross fire in 1987. These concerns were then reiterated after the 7 July 2005 terrorist attacks, which centred on London’s transport system. Airwave was eventually rolled out fully in January 2009 to all 125 below ground London Underground stations. This meant that British Transport Police (BTP), the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the City of London Police are able to use the same radios underground. The rollout linked the emergency services network to London Underground’s Connect digital radio system, part of the Transport for London’s £10bn investment programme. Natural disasters The vulnerability of city subway systems not just to terrorist attack, but also to natural disasters is well documented. The need for a robust emergency services communications system that links into the network operated by the transport authority is also well recognised. When Hurricane Sandy swept through the New York metropolitan area in October 2012, it left behind extensive damage to New York City Transit facilities throughout the subway system. A record storm surge inundated tunnels, filling critical operations rooms that housed electric equipment for signals, relays and communications with highly corrosive saltwater. The storm also exposed a need for a better and faster way for supervisors to communicate with crew members and customers in times of emergency. Even after three years and thousands of hours of labour spent repairing and restoring service to pre-Sandy levels, the subway system has yet to fully recover, with many related repairs still to be made. In 2015, MTA New York City Transit received two Federal Transit Administration grants totaling $57.1m (£45.7m) for two major storm resiliency projects in subway stations: a new emergency communications system and a hardening project to protect station rooms critical to service delivery. Until March 2016 police officers in the transit system could only communicate with each other underground because police were on two different radio frequencies. Using a $100m grant, mostly spent upgrading existing technology, all officers’ radios were reprogrammed to allow them to communicate over ultra-high frequencies on the street and in the subway. Their use was delayed for years, mainly for reasons that had nothing to do with technology, but bureaucratic inertia. Read on Police Oracle
  4. Rogue One

    Best sepura earpiece for clarity

    Hi I'm looking to see if there are better quality earpieces available which would give much better clarity of sound. Just like high-end headphones - the sound is more better and less tinny... I know it would be hard as it is such a small speaker component but seeing what's out there.
  5. http://www.mobilenewscwp.co.uk/2015/12/10/ee-wins-7-billion-emergency-services-contract/ Call me cynical but I'll be looking for this to come in behind schedule and over budget.
  6. The company which provides critical communications infrastructure to Britain's emergency services is holding secret talks about a sale amid uncertainty over the destination of a new £1bn Government contract. Sky News has learnt that Airwave, which was bought in 2007 for £1.9bn by two infrastructure funds managed by Macquarie, the Australian bank, has been engaged in discussions with a range of potential buyers including Motorola Solutions and Hong Kong Telecom. Vodafone is also said to have been examining a possible bid. Airwave provides communications services to the police, ambulance and fire services using conventional radio spectrum, having been established in 2000 under the ownership of what was then BT Group's mobile phone division, BT Cellnet. The company is now valued at roughly £1bn including its debt pile, sources said. News of the auction comes just days after O2 pulled out of a procurement process being run by the Home Office to appoint a provider of a dedicated 4G network due to be introduced during the next few years. Some experts have raised concerns about the intended switch because of doubts that the technology is ready and reliable. O2's withdrawal leaves EE, which is in the process of being acquired by BT, as the sole remaining bidder for the contract. The Airwave sale process is being run by Lazard, the investment bank. It also comes as a review by David Anderson QC said that laws enabling the police and security services to monitor the public's phone and internet activity were "undemocratic and unnecessary", and required a complete overhaul. The ability to persuade a bidder to pay a substantial price for Airwave could hinge on whether the company can position itself as an attractive alternative to the current procurement process with only one remaining contender for the contract. Deloitte, EY and Rothschild are all understood to have roles in the process advising either the Airwave board or the company's lenders. Other prospective bidders, such as BT, are said to be monitoring the process, but it is not thought to have tabled a formal bid. The contest to build and run a new Emergency Services Network (ESN) was launched by the Home Office in 2013, with the intention of awarding the contract in the late summer of this year and services beginning in 2017. In March, the Home Office said that Airwave Solutions, UK Broadband Networks (a subsidiary of Hong Kong Telecom) and Vodafone were no longer in the running for the main emergency services network contract. In a statement given to the Financial Times earlier this week, the Home Office said that O2's decision to withdraw had been disappointing, but added: "However, the process to establish a more effective, flexible, and affordable network for the UK's police, fire and ambulance services will continue. "Procurement remains extremely competitive and will deliver value for money." The parties involved in the sale process either refused to comment or could not be reached. http://news.sky.com/story/1500378/999-comms-firm-airwave-in-secret-sale-talks Incredible, the way this is all going we'll end up with tin cans and string.
  7. Disastrous procurement promises less than services currently have The Register: Full story
  8. adrian.middleton

    Emergency Button Use - Examples please

    Hi all. I'm curious about how and when the police Emergency Assistance buttons are used. What kind of situations may call for it? And I'm assuming that in terms of response teams / patrols, they are normally done in pairs, so I'm guessing use of the button would mean something pretty hairy right?
  9. From the register http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2014/11/21/coppers_seek_new_radio_contract/ Interesting how the Police ICT co is now owned by the PCC's. Is this the easy way for Theresa May to blame someone else for in-action at PICTco? You'd think the PCCs would be more interested in local matters. Maybe a group of chief constables would be better placed to run the company. They are more concerned about operational matters. I wonder how easy it will be to move to a new (several new systems) to replace Airwave especially with all the staff/officer cuts of recent years.

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