A ponderously slow decision by the Irish Government to finally embrace a 21st-century technology called TETRA (terrestrial trunk radio) to support Ireland’s underequipped emergency services has finally been made.
A consortium including Eircom, Motorola and Sigma Wireless has been awarded an eight-year, ‘build-own-operate’ nationwide contract.
TETRA is a technology that has been in use for some years now by police forces and emergency services around the world. However, after many false starts over the technology – which allows secure wireless voice and data transmission between officers – a decision has been made.
Rollout will begin at Dublin Port and Dublin Airport and a nationwide rollout will be completed in two years.
The beleaguered services that will be supported with the new network will be the Gardaí, the Ambulance Service, the Prison Services, the Fire Service and the Customs Service.
“The Government and I have consistently given our commitment that An Garda Síochána will receive every necessary support to enable them to operate effectively as a modern police force,” the Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern TD, said welcoming the new contract which was finally announced by the consortium at the TETRA World Congress in Hong Kong yesterday.
So far €100m has been provided for the Gardaí in terms of technology to bring the force into the 21st century.
The new technology will mean the Guards will finally have an encrypted radio network, free from the prying ears of armed, moneyed and technologically sophisticated criminals.
The provision of the new digital radio service for the force is a significant landmark in delivering on that promise. Almost €100m has been provided for Garda technology-related projects this year alone and this includes significant financial provision for the new radio service.
Officers will be issued with multi-functional handsets that can operate as digital radios and provide access to other public communication networks
The network will allow for GPS location tracking applications such as automatic vehicle location and mobile data services
It will enable secure nationwide inter-communication between all non-commercial public sector bodies, as well as cross-border and cross-band capability providing compatibility with international networks.
Motorola has delivered TETRA solutions to over 350 customers across 75 countries, in both public safety and commercial environments.
By John Kennedy