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NOMS’ digital director Bryan Clark set for key lead ESN role

David Bicknell Published 20 March 2018

Clark named at today’s BAPCO event as taking on key programme role in succession to Gordon Shipley as Home Office makes shift to allow emergency services users to adopt ESN at their own pace


Bryan Clark, director, digital and change at the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) seems set to take over as programme director for the Emergency Services Network(ESN) in succession to the departing Gordon Shipley.

Clark was named by ESMCP senior responsible owner Stephen Webb in a presentation summarising ESN progress at the BAPCO emergency services event in Coventry.

Webb discussed the challenges of the ESN in front of an audience of users from the emergency services who also asked a series of searching questions about issues such as timescales, business change programmes, and technical developments around ESN.

Webb said the hurdles the Home Office had had to overcome included a complex ESN procurement, suppliers having contrasting underlying technical assumptions, which then needed to be resolved, and a significant integration task.

But he defended progress so far, saying that a few years ago, there was uncertainty about the future timing and take-up of 4G; scepticism about whether mobile network operators would want to share networks with emergency services users; scepticism whether priority and pre-emption  - effectively the priority use by the emergency services of the public 4G network when necessary – was possible;  uncertainty about when chipsets and hardware would be available; and a challenging relationship with the incumbent supplier Airwave.

Building on a reference to a more agile approach being adopted at the recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on ESN, Webb referred to the idea of  ‘incremental capability’ where emergency services users who felt able to could start to use ESN capability, while others could wait.  He also discussed the emergence of “exit criteria” for Airwave-ESN rather than “entry criteria”.

Although a new timeline for an ESN is not going to be available until after the Home Office has completed its summer review – followed by a National Audit Office (NAO) review – Webb pointed to an end of the year timeframe for some technical deliveries.

“We certainly think by the end of the year, we should have something on the data side,” he said. Voice capability, he said, might slip into early 2019. “So for some customers, we’ll have things ready really quite quickly,” he said, adding that some other customers will choose to wait for further technical developments.

“The way the programme has been set up until now is a sort of Big Bang approach, or Plan A, where everything has to be ready before anybody went. But I think when you look at the variety of user organisations it makes sense if you’re under attack to go at the speed of the slowest ship in the convoy. But in other circumstances, the most efficient approach is for people to go at their own pace,” Webb said.

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