The Victorian Sheriff’s Office has splurged $1.6 million on a communications platform to track and monitor its 167 vehicles.
The office falls under the Victorian Department of Justice and employs 170 staff who enforce sanctions against those who do not comply with court orders, while the sheriff is responsible for warrants for non-payment of fines.
It will roll out the radio technology, dubbed the Vehicle Access Network (VAN), across its entire fleet in line with upgrades to its communications equipment, allowing officers in distress to be located by Automatic Vehicle Location through GPS.
Enforcement operations director Gabrielle Levine said the solution was deployed to mitigate threats to officers in the field and give them peace of mind in emergency situations.
“If [threat occurs], an officer can activate their duress alarm and know that our communications centre will be able to respond,” Levine said.
Field workers previously had to bring their vehicles off the road to switch to a better cellular network.
The VAN automatically switches between public and private radio networks, including 3G, Wi-Fi and satellite, while vehicles are in motion, and conserves the vehicle battery and backup power supply by turning off unused networks.
The locally-developed system also monitors vehicle parameters including temperature, speed and fuel usage.
Ashley Halfourd, network solutions general manager of NEC, which inked the deal last month along with Telstra, said radio coverage is the biggest problem for emergency services.
“The local development team can customise applications for the platform to suit requirements,” Halfourd said.