New Zealand appoints next-gen emergency comms board

Wednesday, 02 September, 2020

New Zealand appoints next-gen emergency comms board

The New Zealand government has appointed a Chair and four independent members to the Next Generation Critical Communications (NGCC) Executive Governance Board.

NGCC is the government organisation responsible for replacing the current emergency services critical communications system with a new Public Safety Network for Fire and Emergency New Zealand, New Zealand Police, St John and Wellington Free Ambulance.

“Budget20 confirmed an investment of NZ$47.8m across five years for the Public Safety Network,” said the Minister of Police, Stuart Nash.

“It will replace emergency services radio networks that are up to 30 years old and rely heavily on voice communications, with limited national coverage.”

Rob Fyfe has been appointed as the NGCC Board Chair. Fyfe was previously CEO of Air New Zealand and “has led or sponsored major and complex ICT investments and programmes in many of the roles he has held”, the minister said.

“The role of the Board Chair is vital for maintaining an objective balance between the interests of the participating Emergency Services agencies’ and ensuring transparency for the four Ministers with oversight of this project,” the minister added.

The four appointed independent members are:

Anthony Royal (Technical Member). Royal has a wide range of experience in both the telecommunications and ICT sectors. He is currently a Board Member of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and has served as Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Panel for the Maori Digital Technology Fund, and Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Group for Ultra-Fast Broadband and the Rural Broadband Initiative.

Deborah Battell (Commercial Member). Battell has held a number of senior executive roles in government and industry regulatory bodies. She is currently the Independent Consumer Representative on the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme, has been both the Director of Fair Trading and the Director of Competition at the Commerce Commission, and was formerly the Banking Ombudsman.

Karen Mitchell (Commercial Member). Mitchell has held senior executive-level positions within the public and private sectors, and has considerable experience in complex, high-profile infrastructure procurement and commercial negotiations involving multi-agency programs. She has been appointed to a number of governance and advisory groups for infrastructure projects.

TJ Kennedy (International Member). Kennedy is an international public safety technologies expert. He was President of FirstNet (the First Responder Network Authority) in the United States responsible for the implementation of a US$40 billion nationwide broadband network used by over 1.5 million first responders today. He has been a leader for a number of large international technology and system integration companies and had experience in implementing or advising on public safety networks in numerous international jurisdictions.

The Board also has senior executive representatives from the emergency services agencies:

  • Andrew Coster, Police Commissioner, New Zealand Police
  • Rhys Jones, Chief Executive, Fire and Emergency New Zealand
  • Carolyn Schwalger, Chief Executive, National Emergency Management Agency
  • Peter Bradley, Chief Executive, St John
  • Mike Grant, Chief Executive, Wellington Free Ambulance

Image credit: ©

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