U.K. Public-Safety Users Trial ESN Services Before Full Adoption
Monday, February 24, 2020 | Comments

U.K. Emergency Services Network (ESN) staff and contractors are working with public-safety officials in the country to trial various services on the network, said Duncan Swan, director with Mason Advisory, during a podcast called ESN Future.

Mason Advisory, an IT advisory firm, is providing technical assurance directly to the ESN program, with Swan leading the deployment of early capability.

ESN offers several products. ESN Assure launched in its first phase 9 November 2019 to help the emergency services measure and report on ESN coverage and where coverage needs to be improved. ESN Assure consists of a package of tools on a handheld ESN device including an app that monitors coverage while on the move, as well as offering a view of what areas are predicted to be covered.

Another product, ESN Connect, is secure subscriber identity module (SIM)-only data connectivity for vehicles. The service connects vehicle modems with the ESN data service with data prioritization.

During the podcast interview, Swan said the Connect early deployment user base is increasing among fire and rescue services with County Durham & Darlington and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Services leading the way. Others are following.

Another ESN product is ESN Direct, a new-generation push-to-talk (PTT) and critical messaging product on a smartphone. ESN Direct can be used for less-critical scenarios and/or while dual carrying an Airwave and ESN device, the ESN website said.

Immigration Enforcement has 45 users testing the ESN Direct 1 service and offering constructive feedback on the user interface of the ESN Samsung S7 and a number of peripherals.

ESN Direct 2, the second iteration of PTT service on ruggedized smartphones, adds extra communications facilities and features compared with the original Direct 1 service. Motorola Solutions provides ESN’s PTT functionality.

ESN Direct 2 will see West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service support a specific use case with the Samsung S9 for standard telephony features plus interworking. This will allow access to listen to the agency’s Airwave TETRA network talkgroups, as well as using ESN communications groups.

“Fire and rescue services are sticking with use cases that are relatively simple,” Swan said. “They’re also coming up with different ideas on ways ESN could become part and parcel of their daily operational lives.”

Swan said if organizations want to become involved with the initial ESN deployment, they can discuss use cases with their user organizations, such as the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) for fire services. “We’re still refining the enrollment processes and onboarding activity, but talking to representation groups helps them and gets them more ready.”

The best tip to prepare for ESN is to get connected, which means deploying and configuring technology such as switches and firewalls to connect from the user organizations into ESN.

“We’ve crossed the bridge,” Swan said. “We have people asking when, not if, ESN is happening, and we will have a lot happening in 2020. We will see the network being used. With the recent procurements for vehicle devices and the air-to-ground solution, as well as the positive engagement with control room suppliers, industry does believe it’s not if but when.”

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