One of the real challenges of transiting to ESN is first and foremost delivering business as usual. Control rooms up and down the country must be able to continue doing their job, with zero downtime, despite the technical changes.
As we await the ESN transition plan from the Home Office, which is due to be released mid-2019, we have a team allocated to ESN Direct 2.0 and we are working closely with our Lead Organisation to commission an impact assessment for moving from Wave to Kodiak along with a redevelopment schedule.
Let’s look at some of the current priorities…
The ESN product releases that will affect control room interfaces are:
ESN Direct 2.0 which is due August 2019
ESN Direct 3.0 which is expected April 2020
ESN Prime is expected November 2020
These three releases contain different elements, and we as suppliers will be NATs accredited at each stage. The different elements of each product release are:
Direct 2.0, this includes basic call groups functionality
Direct 3.0 includes more features and enhancements
Prime includes multiple talk groups, security and configuration along with location services and is ready for critical voice
Prime is the release that will be rolled out to all customers as this offers complete functionality, including the critical voice elements.
As ESN is a huge change in the communications network which carries significant benefits as well as risks for public safety organisations, our focus has been to minimise any change for operational staff and not to present too much change at once, which is why a phased roll-out of Prime will be recommended.
We have deliberately designed our software to have a familiar look and feel and workflow. The design principle we’ve used is like keeping your mobile phone but switching mobile phone operator. It looks exactly the same; it’s just a different network.
The benefits of this are:
Minimal training required
Business as usual from day-1
Reduced risk during transition
The Power of Cloud
ESN and LTE will create a host of opportunities for new features, enhancements and ways of working. Cloud gives us the opportunity to develop and deliver these new features at a fraction of the usual cost and keep ahead of technological changes and public demand.
For example, in the UK we are seeing a rapid growth in knife crime, especially in London. We could develop
a new feature, available instantly, via the cloud, to all of our customers offering keyword recognition. When a call comes in from an alarmed member of the public who mentions the use of a knife, a message could flash up on the control room operator’s screen setting out the procedures for handling an incident involving a knife and highlighting available resources equipped with stab vests. This would protect police officers and other emergency responders; help deploy appropriate resources to deal with the incident and protect the public.
Open standards are the way forward
It’s been well documented across that whole ESN project that open standards will play an important part in the integration and collaboration of technology and software. Our technology is wrapped in APIs, which means other organisations can interface with our platform through interoperability standards. Our technology talks to other technologies and other suppliers’ software talks to ours, in a standard way.
This means the customer is not held in a stranglehold by any supplier. It gives technical and procurement options and it empowers the customer.