Tasmania has formally opened bidding in its $15 million effort to establish a single, modern, computer-aided dispatch system that it hopes will link up all its emergency services agencies.
The scheme, which will replace a range of disparate legacy platforms currently used across Tasmania’s police and state emergency services, is set to become the biggest IT program in the state’s public sector after the Liberal government cut a $28 million ICT fund out of the budget a year ago.
The project is expected to take two years, and received $15 million in the latest state budget.
The Department of Police and Emergency Management briefed local industry representatives earlier this week, indicating it would like to see a contract in place as soon as February next year.
The whole-of-emergency services CAD (ESCAD) initiative will deliver a dispatch platform to the Tasmanian SES for the first time.
At present, SES workers and volunteers manage deployment manually via a duty officer who sends jobs to units through a network of pagers and telephones. After hours the system has to be diverted through Tasmania police for reference to the duty officer.
The Tasmanian Police is looking forward to an updated CAD system that will catch up with the rest of its modern kit.
All state officers currently carry either a Acer Iconia tablet, Lenovo laptop or various models of smartphones, all running Windows 8. A ‘light’ version of the existing CAD has been developed that can be accessed through these devices, but the force is looking for a greater boost in functionality.
The ambulance and fire services both run central dispatch call centres out of Hobart.
The interoperability advantage of bundling all the emergency services into a single common CAD was first raised in 2013 in the wake of devastating bushfires that tore through the state that same year.
A subsequent review of the emergency response recommended the CAD infrastructure be updated as a matter of urgency.
However, the department has also warned that the program faces a number of significant challenges, not least of which will be running the existing mission critical systems at 100 percent uptime in parallel with the replacement work, while also maintaining interoperability with legacy systems.
The scheme will also require the re-training of more than 8000 emergency services workers and volunteers.