Taskforce to drive delivery of Australian PSMB

Thursday, 28 September, 2023

Taskforce to drive delivery of Australian PSMB

Australia’s first responders are now one step closer to improved communications during an emergency, following the establishment of the Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB) Taskforce on Monday, 25 September. The taskforce will be led by the Australian Government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and will be supported by other Australian Government bodies as well as state and territory government agencies.

The PSMB Taskforce will be responsible for laying the groundwork for the long-term public safety communications infrastructure, prioritising partnerships with state and territory governments to ensure they have a voice in its design. It will also create the framework that drives the delivery of PSMB to public safety agencies nationally.

Currently, public safety agencies rely on land mobile radio networks for their communication needs. These have limited data services and in many instances are not enabled for cross-border or cross-organisational communications.

The PSMB Taskforce is set to provide fast and secure voice, video and data communications specifically for emergency services, such as fire, ambulance and police. Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt said the taskforce will mean improved communications across the different services and geographic boundaries, and therefore a more coordinated response.

“The Albanese government committed $10.1 million from the 2023–24 federal Budget to establish and fund the operations of the taskforce over the next two years,” Watt said.

“The taskforce’s establishment is a landmark step towards making the PSMB a reality, something that emergency services have been requesting for a long time.

“The taskforce will establish working groups with representatives from all states and territories, whose ideas and contributions will be critical to the design of the PSMB.

“This milestone also ticks off one of the Australian Government’s commitments to supporting the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements, as well as numerous other Royal Commissions calling for the delivery of a PSMB capability.”

Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said the government’s investment in the taskforce will help save lives, ensuring our first responders have access to reliable communications services during emergencies.

“A PSMB capability will enhance Australia’s ability to manage emergencies, hazards and threats by giving emergency services agencies access to data-rich, reliable and modern communications technologies,” Rowland said.

“The establishment of the taskforce means we’re a step closer to developing the critical public safety communications infrastructure our first responders need to more effectively respond to emergencies.”

The announcement of the taskforce came on the morning of Australia’s first National Bushfire Summit, held in Canberra on 25 and 26 September. Convened by NEMA, the summit marked the first time all key stakeholders — including specialists in crisis management, response and recovery from government, industry, community and the not-for-profit sector — had come together to prepare for the coming higher-risk weather season.

“Since our election 16 months ago, the Albanese government has worked hard to ensure Australia is better connected, better coordinated and better prepared for the disasters we know are coming,” Watt said.

“Today’s summit is the next step in that plan; to make sure that all who have a role in disasters know what to expect this upcoming season, and that they are as prepared as possible.”

Image credit: iStock.com/Chinnapong

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