Victoria to trial emergency communications on any device

The Victorian government has announced $533,400 for a pilot program that will allow the state's emergency services organisations and volunteers to communicate wirelessly over a common channel on any smartphone.

Trials will take place over the next few months on an integrated voice, text, email, video and location services application for smartphones. The project will be funded under the Coalition government’s Broadband-Enabled Innovation Program.

“As the disaster management environment becomes more complex we must harness the latest broadband technology to improve the coordination of, and communications between, emergency services personnel,” said Victoria technology minister Gordon Rich-Phillips.

“This project is innovation at its best and will showcase the potential for real-time communication between field responders and those in command and control positions to improve decision making with access to better information.”

Victorian Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the program will improve public safety agency’s response to emergencies.

“Longer term, our ultimate aim is for responders to be able to view real-time streaming video of incidents, listen to dispatchers’ instructions and review emergency services data on smartphones before they even arrive on scene.”

National Safety Agency president Des Bahr said the project has now attracted $4 million and through exporting there are opportunities to gain $100 million in additional revenue and create up to 80 jobs in the state.

It’s not the only recent investment that the Victorian government has made in emergency services communications. Last month, the government awarded a $24.6 million contract to a Telstra-led group to provide 6000 GPS-enabled radios to firefighters in the state.

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