In 2015, Fiji Police Force extended its licence agreement with Motorola Solutions digital radio provider, PACTOK, to a five year agreement, paving the way to upgrade police communications from an analogue to a digital platform.
Under the agreement, PACTOK provides a wide area network (WAN) based on Motorola Solutions’ Capacity Plus platform, with 28 repeaters at eight telecommunication sites around Fiji. Digital portable, base and mobile two-way radios issued to officers fall under a lease arrangement, which enables Fiji Police to own the equipment at the end of five years.
Key to the agreement is the planned deployment of GPS capability in the new system. Utilising this application, three command control centres will have the ability to monitor officer and vehicle locations via their consoles. The new digital radio system will improve police officers’ contact with their command centre while out in the field for operational duties.
In an interview published in Fiji TV, Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald stated that Fiji Police’s new digital radio communication platform will “elevate Fiji Police to be on par with developed countries in terms of the in-built GPS system, [and] the deposition of police resources which can be monitored from our three dedicated police command centres”.
Coverage in remote areas increased
The greatest benefit is that the new system has significantly increased radio communication reach between the four police divisions in Fiji and across the region. This was experienced firsthand when PACTOK and police technicians set up a MOTOTRBO radio repeater from Vanuabalavu Island in the remote Lau Group during the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston and communicated back to the police coordinated command. The team also communicated with the police northern command centre on board the HMNZS Canterbury from Yacata Island en-route to Vanuabalavu Island from a five watt MOTOTRBO portable radio.
Coverage has doubled compared with previously, and access is now possible in remote police maritime stations and posts. Assistant Superintendent Mosese Vuetimaiwai, Manager Communication Support for the Fiji Police, explained that coverage had increased to cover more than 95 per cent of Fiji, which is a big improvement.
ASP Vuetimaiwai explains that standardisation of equipment was one of his main objectives in the project, and has been a major benefit of the upgrade. Previously, Fiji Police used whichever brand of analogue radios was available, which meant that, although compatible, as many as five different brands were in use.
With standard radios across the force, any officer can pick up a handset and immediately know how it operates instead of taking time out to understand its operation. A further aspect of this benefit, while intangible, has been a sense of pride that the force has a state-of-the-art brand and the most modern technology in Motorola Solutions.
GPS to improve resource management
Digital communications will bring extra capability to the force, such as GPS. Currently, in order to locate the nearest police vehicle or a beat officer, the practice is to send out a broadcast call and wait for officers to report their location. The introduction of GPS positioning means that the control centre operator will know who is closest to the crime scene and can dispatch him or her to the scene, saving cost and time. As a result, resource management
and coordination of responses is expected to improve, with the right people attending an incident at the right time.
Better communication is not limited to radio-to-radio communication. By utilising a TRBOnet enterprise software component, Fiji Police officers can talk to any mobile phone or landline from their radios. This means that communication is not limited between officers or personnel carrying two-way radios, but extends to others as well.
The flexible financial proposal was key to providing the solution to Fiji Police. At the completion of the five year lease-to-own plan, Fiji Police will own equipment such as base, mobile and portable radios. Access to the Capacity Plus network, however, is provided by PACTOK similar to a managed service arrangement, making the technology affordable for the force. In addition, Fiji Police was able to outsource the rollout of the digital solution in order to focus on core policing tasks.
Other features include:
• Crosspatch: VHF/UHF digital communication
• Broadcast, group or private calls
• Recording: Communication recording via RF network
• Voice messages
• Text messages
• Route history
• Location history
• Indoor tracking
• SIP interconnect
• Web console
The system proved its resilience during Tropical Cyclone Winston in February 2016. PACTOK’s communications via Motorola Solutions was the only system up and running for police during the height of the cyclone, while all other communications systems were down. This is certainly testament to the strength and resilience of the system as Cyclone Winston was Fiji’s worst cyclone in recorded history, reaching category five (the maximum) on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale.
Download the Fiji Police case study PDF here.