Significant communications investment to keep emergency responders and the public safe

A new digital communications network for emergency service workers will roll out from next year, marking the most significant advance in New Zealand’s public safety communications in decades, Police Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. 

The Public Safety Network will deliver emergency services with a single secure digital radio network and greatly improved mobile broadband access. Together the technologies will help meet the ever-increasing data and information needs of frontline staff as they are out and about serving the community.

“This infrastructure investment is significant and is what New Zealand’s frontline workers deserve. It will help keep them and the public safe by giving them reliable and secure coverage in urban, state highway and rural areas,” Chris Hipkins said.

“New Zealand’s Emergency Services are made up of approximately 35,000 staff and volunteers who attend over 5 million calls for help every year. They need to be able to respond at any time, and in any part of New Zealand, and for that they need accurate and timely information.

“Progressing the Public Safety Network to this build phase has required a significant collaborative effort among the four emergency services. The new network will serve our front line emergency responders for decades to come.

“It will be used by Police, Fire and Emergency NZ, Hato Hone St John, and Wellington Free Ambulance and gives them the ability to communicate with each other more effectively during emergency incidents to keep people safe, protect life and property, maintain law and order, and deal with health events. It could be expanded for other government users in the future.

“The network will have two key components: a digital land mobile radio network, which allows emergency services to reliably communicate with each other and prioritised cellular services and roaming, which will increase connectedness to mobile broadband for responders, especially at times when mobile networks are congested or degraded.

“We also know first-hand the significant challenges posed by earthquake and climate-related emergencies. This infrastructure investment will support our emergency services to work together more effectively in this challenging environment.

"New Zealand's emergency services have done an incredible job in often very challenging circumstances. The new network will give them a modern network to replace a critical communications system that's getting past its best. 

“The successful bidders who will build the Public Safety Network are a Tait Communications and Kordia joint venture, and Hourua (a Spark and Vodafone NZ (One NZ) joint venture). It’s extremely pleasing to see New Zealand companies and the economy will benefit from this important and skilled work,” Chris Hipkins said. 

Delivering the Public Safety Network is a significant infrastructure project, investing $1.4 billion over 10 years to build and operate the network, roll out new devices to emergency services staff, stations and vehicles, and decommission the existing network.

Emergency services will start transitioning to Cellular Services from mid–2023 and Land Mobile Radio as a regional roll out from 2024.

More information about the Public Safety network can be found on the NGCC website: www.ngcc.govt.nz