Police go thin and long

Thin-client technology will play a key part in future police systems, the management contract for which was signed last month with Unisys.

Thin-client technology will play a key part in future police systems, the management contract for which was signed last month with Unisys.

Police enterprise networks manager Rohan Mendis says thin clients will be a feature of a redesigned police network and computer infrastructure, which is today based on a client-server model.

The contract with Unisys is for 10 years, though it should take only about two years to move the network across to the new architecture, Mendis says. After that Unisys “will continue to do whatever we tell them”, he says, working on further police ideas in a roadmap which has not yet been fully defined.

Three other contracts of unusually long terms that have been signed appear a significant break with public service caution over long-term vendor-specific involvement.

Some of that caution was directly sparked by the IBM-led Incis contract, which failed spectacularly. The contracts are with Telecom (five years), Unisys, Logical and Cisco for the IP network (four years with two potential three-year extensions) and Ericsson for telephony applications (again four plus three plus three). These have ensured substantial reduction in total cost of ownership, Mendis says, including cellphone overheads. The police network structure will be rationalised from multiple networks to a central multi-service IP network, with necessary interfaces to the public switched telephone network and the police radio network.

The important aspects of a new system, Mendis says, addressing a TUANZ seminar last month, are:

  • proven products: “we are no longer guinea pigs”
  • “real” open standards, not just claims along these lines by a particular vendor
  • a future evolution path.
Unisys spokeswoman Judith Johnston was not prepared last week to discuss anything beyond the official announcement of Unisys as the provider. She would not even confirm the length of the contract.

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