New Zealand Police move to a trunked digital solution

Tait Electronics (Aust) Pty Ltd
Monday, 02 November, 2009

The New Zealand Police (NZP), with more than 10,000 staff countrywide, needed to move from a dated, nationwide conventional analog network to a trunked digital solution.

Starting with the main urban centres, the goal is for the network to extend across the country. Policing across a massive variety of terrain, the NZP uses an array of vehicle types and cooperates with a wide range of government agencies and other emergency services.

The new system provides improvements including:

  • Secure communications that improve officer safety and police impact on crime;
  • More flexibility for special police operations which require communications between units;
  • Better audio quality with less interference;
  • More robust radio terminals;
  • Shared design and install services with coverage testing to training;
  • Backwards compatible and distributed infrastructure for network resilience;
  • For coverage across varied terrain, P25 gives best digital value and security;
  • Audio clarity and tough portables/mobiles give accurate and reliable communications;
  • Ongoing partnership between Tait and the police.

The replacement of a still live analog network to a TaitNet trunked P25 network was a substantial challenge.

The introduction of secure radio is a major change to NZP’s radio infrastructure and requires 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 that runs the radio network nationwide.

The network consisted of 250 to 300 different VHF sites in the 70 MHz band (490 MHz UHF in the cities) 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.

The new encrypted digital trunked network means that, in the future, no one will be able to use scanners to find out the intentions or whereabout of police front-line staff. This will not only increase officer safety but also increase the security and reliability of police radio communications.

A working group, comprising police, fire, ambulance, customs, the State Services Commission, Ministries of Economic Development, Fisheries and others, earlier selected the P25 standard under the egovernment interoperability framework as the most suitable for New Zealand’s environment.

NZP’s specialist groups, nationwide, were migrated to the digital network in late 2008. General duties staff in the Wellington region were the next to get secure digital radio in June 2009, to be followed by Canterbury and Auckland by the end of 2010.

The Tait P25 radios can communicate in analog mode so the police can migrate to digital at a pace that suits them. The portables and mobiles have the same interface, making them easy to use.

Portables include TP9155s and TP9160s with intrinsically safe batteries, intelligent power management and a variety of accessories. The TM9155 mobile radios to be installed in police cars, vans and motorbikes will include a mix of remote, fixed and handheld control heads.

The new radios are more robust than the current issue and have better audio quality, with less interference. Security can be better managed because of the encryption on the TP9155/60 and TM9155s.

The network is simple and open, deploying off the shelf components for greater value and ease of support.

Police ICT manager Murray Mitchell said the police selected the technology using a competitive tender process that led to Tait’s P25 system being adopted, as the company was able to offer a complete solution.

“We are now working together as partners to ensure emergency services get the best possible radio technology to support their work,” he says.

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