Public Services > Blue Light

Home Office admits to ESN complexity

David Bicknell Published 14 August 2017

Department says scope and scale of testing needed for Emergency Services Network is “greater than originally anticipated, and will therefore take longer”


The Home Office has admitted to the complexity involved in delivering the Emergency Services Network (ESN) mobile communications programme for blue-light services.

The department’s acknowledgment of the programme’s challenges came in response to a report by LandMobile that two of its sources had suggested that the programme is experiencing further delays.

That the programme’s timetable was likely to be adjusted was not in doubt following July’s recent meeting of the Mayor of London’s GLA Oversight Committee which met to discuss the implications for London of the planned Emergency Services Network (ESN).

After the meeting, it emerged that the Home Office is considering new project milestones for ESN, which it is understood, are likely to emerge later this year.  The milestones have not yet been disclosed.

In its most recent statement, the Home Office told Government Computing through a spokesperson, "The new Emergency Services Network (ESN) will provide the dedicated teams who work so hard protecting the public and saving lives with the most advanced communications system of its kind anywhere in the world.

"The timelines for ESN are ambitious and this is because we want to give the emergency services the benefits of the latest technology as soon as practicable. However, we must make sure ESN is absolutely right before the emergency services make use of the network, and we are clear that Airwave will remain in use until ESN is ready.”

It is understood that Home Office officials recognise that because of the complexity of the technology involved, the scope and scale of testing of ESN needed to be undertaken with the Home Office’s partners, principally EE and Motorola, is “greater than originally anticipated, and will therefore take longer.”

It is also understood that there is expected to be greater clarity on the impact of the additional testing requirement to timescales in the Autumn.

Separately, it has also emerged that the Home Office is working with police forces on a formal acceptance criteria, but the Home Office has indicated this will not be different to the criteria the police set out at the beginning of the emergency services mobile communications programme.

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