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Volunteer Rescue Association receives $4.7M to upgrade comms network

Volunteer Rescue Association receives $4.7M to upgrade comms network

More than one contractor will be engaged in integrating the new network.

Credit: VRA NSW

The Volunteer Rescue Association of NSW (VRA) has received a $4.7 million investment to overhaul its radio communications network using Motorola products.

The funding will provide for 421 new radios and equip 100 vehicles with vehicle as a node (VaaN) technology.

VaaN capability integrates radio, mobile phone and satellite networks to provide a communication system that is resistant to ‘blackspots’, which often occur when natural disasters impact infrastructure.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the funding injection will overhaul the VRA’s radio network to bring it into line with the other emergency services.

“This multi-million dollar boost will give our VRA volunteers access to a consistent and reliable radio network which is compatible with other agencies and guarantees their ability to communicate anywhere in NSW,” she said.

“The VRA is the only agency in the state solely dedicated to rescue and its volunteers and staff have done an incredible job, particularly over the past 12 months supporting flood operations."

VRA acting commissioner Andrew Luke said the upgrade will also give volunteers access to a duress button that is centrally monitored.

“At the press of a button our members can request urgent assistance if they are in danger, enabling an immediate response,” he said.

“Being able to send and receive life-saving communications in all conditions is vital to the safety of everyone, including our 1,218 members.”

Given its state-wide footprint, Luke said it was likely that more than one contractor would be involved in the installation, but as it's early in the project, there was work to be done on selecting contractors and installation locations.

In August, Motorola Solutions won a five-year contract extension with the NSW Telco Authority for the continued support and enhancement of the Public Safety Network (PSN).

Under the contract, Motorola is providing secure voice and data communication for first responders via the PSN, which allows emergency services organisations (ESO) to communicate and coordinate responses to critical incidents and disasters on a single, shared network.

The suite of public safety services Motorola is delivering include network lifecycle upgrades and 24/7 cyber security support.

Additionally, software upgrades are anticipated to improve the network’s location, vehicle and personnel protection capabilities. 

Other upgrades are to pave the way to use newer technologies, including software to extend the reach of interoperable land mobile radio (LMR) communications to more users via cellular networks and the introduction of converged communication devices.

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