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NZ Police tune into encrypted digital radio network

Force upgrades Cisco internet protocol interoperability and collaboration (IPICS) system for national emergencies

Shifting from analog to an encrypted digital radio network has meant faster response times and a more secure connection for the New Zealand Police when co-ordinating emergencies such as the recent Christchurch earthquake.

According to acting chief information officer, Murray Mitchell, the implementation of Cisco's Cisco IP Interoperability and Collaboration System (IPICS) version 4.5 reduced the time needed to access police radio channels from a few weeks down to minutes.

"We can now provide any radio channel to anywhere in New Zealand, whereas previously we were limited to where the 12 Ericsson radio control terminal (RCT) switches were deployed," he said.

"Deployment of the encrypted digital radio network to the Auckland, Wellington [North Island] and Canterbury [South Island] districts also allows our frontline officers and communications centres to communicate securely."

However, other police districts in New Zealand continue to operate on the existing analog radio network, which is provided by Ericsson. Mitchell did not say when the rest of the force would be upgraded to IPICS.

The implementation has also meant easier integration with other emergency services such as the NZ Fire Service, which also uses the IPICS communications system and separate analog radio network.

In addition to IPICS, Mitchell added that the NZ Police had a mobile technology strategy to use a variety of devices and operating systems.

"Tablets are being considered and evaluated but until a decision about using them is finalised, we cannot release any more details," he said.

He also said the police were considering a future deployment of Cloud services but any implementation would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, depending on the "nature of the data and full assessment of risk."

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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