In Reports and Publications

ARCIA Leads PSMB Debate to Encourage Real Outcomes.

The following is a paper prepared by ARCIA as a guide towards leading the PSMB debate towards some real outcomes:

The Australian Radio Communications Industry Association (ARCIA) has held a close interest in the PSMB discussions for quite some time and we were involved as part of the working groups as project discussions were taking place. We were also contributors to the Productivity Commission (PC) enquiry and helped the PC members gain access to several different industry segments to help give a more balanced report. The final report has been delivered to the Australian Government and there are no doubt many discussions and deliberations regarding the recommendations from the report.

ARCIA believes very strongly that there now needs to be further activity at multiple levels as part of the overall development of a vision for the future development and implementation of this essential tool for our public safety agencies. The purpose of this document is to bring into better focus some of the needs at the various levels within relevant agencies and Government Departments, with the primary aim of putting the development of both the vision and implementation plan firmly back into the realm of the major beneficiaries of the PSMB system, the users.

The most important issue that must be kept in mind is that further development of the PSMB project is –

At this point in time it is not about spectrum or funding – it is about the real operational parameters, once they are better defined then items such as spectrum and funding requirements will become much clearer and more manageable!

With this in mind ARCIA believes that there are actions to be taken at multiple levels and that these can be conducted in parallel by agencies and jurisdictions to begin to formulate a national vision of what is really needed and how it might be achieved. Once these parameters are developed the options for how the PSMB system might be developed to the full potential will be much clearer and planning for spectrum and funding will be much simpler.

Out of the Productivity Commission report – – there is one factor that stands out as a major omission of information, the report highlights that none of the respondents, agencies or jurisdictions presented any information regarding the real-time or forecast estimates of the amount of data required. The only reason for having a PSMB is to provide mobile data to public safety agencies, yet there is no information or estimates on how much data is required, a bit like going shopping for the groceries without knowing how much money you have or what you actually need?

ARCIA believes that the following levels of Government and agencies need to gather information and develop a true ‘needs analysis’ as the foundation stones of the overall system development –

At a national level

a) From the COAG working groups – encourage and direct the jurisdictions and agencies to work together on a common menu of requirements to collect and collate information.

b) From the agencies at National level – develop a ‘needs analysis’ for each of the relevant agencies, including the basic items such as real data requirements and coverage areas

c) From a national perspective investigate options regarding interoperability, together with looking into the various ‘security of data’ concerns that will arise as the project planning develops further

d) At a COAG discussion level, explore the various options regarding funding and capabilities of the possible networks as a pre-cursor to clarification of alternatives and options as the project develops.

 At a jurisdiction level

a) Identify which agencies and organisations would/should have access to the PSMB system. This should evaluate whether access is restricted to ‘First responders’ only or support agencies such as SES, Surf Life Saving, Sheriff’s Office and similar organisations. This is important from the perspective of bringing a ‘Whole of Government’ approach into the equation which might be a significant factor in further PSMB planning.

b) At an operational level, direct each agency (including the support agencies) to evaluate their real data needs at present, plus develop forecasts of potential future usage. In many cases the agencies will still only be working from the estimates provided to Gibson Quai Consultants (GQC) several years back without re-evaluating the actual usage in current terms. Agencies MUST investigate and include ALL data, including existing devices utilising public carriers now, plus any IoT or M2M applications that are running within their organisations.

c) Investigate what funding and operational options might be available at a jurisdictional level in parallel with the development of needs from the relevant agencies.

d) Conduct an audit across all Government departments and agencies at all levels to evaluate the data levels and existing expenditure on data resources that might be capable of being amalgamated into a WoG PSMB network as one of the options for consideration in c) above. For instance, VicRoads spend significant amounts each year within the traffic light management system where each traffic light controller is linked into centralised computer networks, this is not critical data but could easily run in the background of a PSMB system with critical data having priority during incidents. The House of Representatives enquiry into Smart Cities also highlighted other areas of data collection that might be suitable for ‘background operation’ on the PSMB network, refer to the report at –

 At agency level

a) At an operational level identify the actual amount of data presently being used, and in particular –

  • The relevant amounts in both download and upload format
  • The amounts involved at ‘business as usual’ operations, minor incidents and significant incidents
  • If available from real incident situations the amount of data involved in ‘joint operations’ format
  • The amount of data and files that would/should be available as shared resources with other agencies
  • Realistic assessment of the data security requirements that might apply, both at a personnel and agency level

b) At an operational level provide an evaluation of the known enhancements regarding operational tools and services that will apply in the near future that will be of benefit to personnel and management decision making processes, either as dedicated operational devices (body-worn cameras, etc.) or as applications on data devices (biometrics, etc.)

c) At a planning level – evaluation of what impact social media needs, IoT AND M2M applications might have in the future data requirements.

d) At a planning level – examine the real-time needs that will determine the effectiveness of a PSMB network in daily operations, and how provision on a full or part public carrier operated service would fit within the overall agency operational and interoperability planning.

e) At the overall agency level, formulate the needs against a common set of criteria to enable comparison and collation at all levels to enable proper planning for PSMB capacity.

f) To consider the larger picture of needs established as part of the development of a series of ‘Service Level Agreement’ (SLA) parameters, this will become an essential item of information regardless of how the ultimate PSMB system is implemented and will be fundamental to the future operations.

Building the file of requirements

Once the above requirements have been assembled there will be a common pool of information for the jurisdictions to begin to build a framework of needs based on actual information from within each agency, together with additional information gleaned from a range of other sources to give a WoG pattern of requirements.

Out of the collation of the information from each of the jurisdictions the national agencies and other Departments will again be able to collate information based on real-time usage as well as forecast increases into the future to give a broad vision of the real requirements. This will also allow for a reasonable degree of verification of the data from the jurisdictions by having statistics with a common basis that gives better clarity for cross-checking and verification. It will also allow for highlighting of the many issues involved and how they might be addressed as a national vision.


Having developed the overall vision based on common statistical information, it should then be much easier for each jurisdiction and agency to become equal contributors as part of a development team for the main PSMB network, able to evaluate the various options for provision, as well as address the issues regarding interoperability and security as the concerns and potential problems would/should have been identified by each agency/jurisdiction during the information gathering process. With a complete package of information, together with a national vision for requirements and SLA performance, decisions regarding spectrum and funding will become much simpler and can be based on factual inputs and outcomes.

ARCIA strongly recommends that members discuss this outline with members of the relevant agencies and jurisdictions as a method of industry supporting the Public Safety community to develop plans and implement some actions to lead the way towards this important next stage of PSA communications.