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Qld public safety IT&T needs overhaul

Review urges common comms in agencies

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A review into Queensland's police and emergency services will have the IT sector cracking open its tendering boilerplates, with a recommendation that the state create common platforms to link police to other agencies.

The review, conducted by former Australian Federal Police head Mick Keelty, recommends a compete overhaul of IT and communications in the Queensland government's $AU4 billion Police and Public Safety Portfolio.

Keelty writes that the department and police “have either not addressed or have been unable to advance better models for interoperability”. This is exacerbated by “external factors” – for example, the Queensland Police use of WEBDOCs aligns it with other forces in Australia, but doesn't play nice with local government's “GUARDIAN” system, while at the same time, the Department of Community Safety is favouring a SharePoint-based system.

Direct links between local government, police, the department and other departmental systems is “critical both in disaster situations … and in terms of ongoing connectivity and investment,” the report states.

The poor connectivity means different agencies often resort to mobile phones to pass information between each other, the report states, and interpersonal relationships become the glue by which the system actually works.

“We observed on occasions that the system works well almost in spite of itself,” the review notes, adding that “the system sometimes works through a network of “mates” rather than any formalised process.”

The state's Public Safety Communications Steering Committee is singled out for criticism, with the review recommending that it be disbanded. The review notes that although there are recommendations dating back to 2003 that the state develop a single dispatch system, this has not happened.

In spite of the existence of the committee, the review states, the department “failed to deliver fundamental initiatives in information and communication technology”, so the review concludes that the committee should be disbanded.

The Queensland government has created an implementation team – another committee – to adopt the recommendations of the review. ®

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