Rob Fyfe to oversee new $47.8M emergency communications network rollout

Rob Fyfe to oversee new $47.8M emergency communications network rollout

Fyfe as Next Generation Critical Communications chair will be supported by a team of expert board members

Rob Fyfe

Rob Fyfe

Credit: IDG

Former Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe will chair the Next Generation Critical Communications (NGCC) project, tasked with replacing emergency services critical communications networks.

Minister of Police Stuart Nash appointed the Fyfe and four independent members to the NGCC executive governance board late last week.

The NGCC will rollout public safety networks for Fire and Emergency New Zealand, New Zealand Police, St John and Wellington Free Ambulance, with Crown Infrastructure Partners, the company behind the Ultrafast Broadband projects, tasked with delivery.

The current Police critical radio communications network is over 20 years old and approaching end of life, presenting an increased risk of service failure.

Police is the lead agency for the NGCC Programme to procure a replacement communications network for the broader emergency services group.

Police have identified this initiative as a financial risk. The Vote includes $47.8 million over four years to replace the aging communications capability.

But that is only part of planned spending totaling $85 million. $22.19 million was also committed over four years in 2019 to maintain the operation of the existing communications system, and $15 million over two years to support the procurement process for a new system.

“The ageing equipment has needed replacement for some time and this investment in core public services is vital in the interests of community safety, Nash said. "Frontline responders need modern, reliable and secure communications.

“I am pleased to welcome Rob Fyfe as NGCC board chair.  Rob has extensive business experience and has strong relationships with business, telecommunications and technology leaders.  

He has led or sponsored major and complex ICT investments and programmes in many of the roles he has held.”

The four appointed Independent Members were Anthony Royal, who has has a wide range of experience in both the telecommunications and ICT sectors as technical member.  

Deborah Battell, who has held a number of senior executive roles in government and industry regulatory bodies, will join as a commercial member, bringing strong knowledge of the telecommunications industry and involvement in the emergency services sector. 

Karen Mitchell, also a commercial member, has held senior executive level positions within the public and private sectors and has considerable experience in complex, high profile infrastructure procurement and commercial negotiations involving multi-agency programmes.

International member TJ Kennedy is an international public safety technologies expert.  He was president of FirstNet (the First Responder Network Authority) in the United States responsible for the implementation of a US$40 billion nationwide broadband network used by over 1.5 million first responders. 

They are joined on the board by senior executive representatives from each of the emergency services agencies.

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