New Zealand emergency communications infrastructure will receive a boost with the Department of Internal Affairs planning to invest in an alternative communications system for use in major national emergencies.
The DIA has gone to market for a new Wellington Emergency Network to supplement the current data and voice network servicing the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC).
News of the project comes just days after Minister of Civil Defence John Carter announced a new emergency management software system for the centre. That system will be provided by E-Sponder for use at the centre, based underground beneath the Beehive, and by civil defence authorities.
The NCMC is New Zealand's national emergency operations centre that coordinates the responses of the hundreds of organisations likely to be involved in a large scale emergency.
New Zealand's civil defence response was roundly criticised last year for failing to issue timely warnings of potential tsunami threats.
The solution will include an alternative communications path for both voice and data communications into and out of the NCMC to a location outside of Wellington, tender documents say.
The tender specifies that the solution will use radio technology (typically broadband point-to-point microwave or satellite) to complement existing terrestrial services.
"The department requires exceptionally reliable voice and data communications to ensure national command and control from the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) in Wellington [so it] can be maintained under the full range of civil defence emergencies." The document also says that the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management’s (MCDEM) requirements for communications reliability are "uniquely different from normal corporate requirements".
The new emergency network will need to ensure communications in and out of Wellington are not disrupted in a civil emergency.
"Protecting MCDEM’s Wellington emergency communications is necessary to ensure that the NCMC in Wellington is not isolated from the rest of New Zealand. This includes access to the NCMC and the DIA computer facilities in the NCMC."
The communications services will also support the new Emergency Management Information System to be provided by E-Sponder, the tender says.
The emergency communications requirements of Crisis Management Centre are to be integrated into the standard Internal Affairs environment set by the department's Government Technology Services unit.