The London Assembly’s Oversight Committee took evidence from a number of representatives from the emergency services on the transition from the Airwave communication system to the use of the Emergency Services Network (ESN). The Committee heard that Airwave had been a success on its own terms, but that the system had reached the end of its life.
ESN would, the Committee heard, provide both voice and data functionalities, offer better coverage, allow greater interoperable working between the emergency services, and be cheaper than the existing system.
Having raised concerns over delays in introducing the system, Committee Chairman Len Duvall (Lab) was told that good progress was being made, but that a “considerable series” of tests to make sure the system met the needs of the emergency services would mean that things would “take as long as necessary.”
Keith Prince (Con) asked about the key risks of the project and the steps being taken to mitigate them. He heard that technical novelty and coverage were some of the principal concerns, but was told that the emergency services would have priority access to the EE network on which the system relied. A coverage map was being developed, the Committee heard, and there was a panemergency services effort to verify coverage from a ‘user perspective’ to ensure the system worked as needed.