Tasmania’s New TASGRN Radio Network to be 2023 Bushfire Ready

Rapid response radio: Telstra's multi-agency communication network will be delivered ahead of schedule.

Thu 06 Jul 23


Tasmania’s new Government Radio Network is now active and will be fully operational in November 2023 in time for bushfire season.

Announced in 2018, TasGRN is a $763 million network covering eight agencies which previously found it difficult to communicate in the field – and includes everything from police, fire and the SES to Hyrdo Tasmania and Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s forestry operations.

Footage courtesy of @TasGRN

Awarded to Telstra in December 2020, the project was expected to be finalised by 2024; however, according to Tasmania’s Emergency Minister, Felix Ellis, the project will come in ahead of time, on budget, and will expand Telstra mobile coverage in remote areas of the State.

The project represents the largest telecommunications project delivered by Telstra in the State, with the telco giant identified as the preferred bidder in August 2020.

The new network was tested in May 2023. Footage courtesy of @TasGRN

Then, Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management Mark Shelton said the TasGRN would allow these key organisations to better serve the Tasmanian community and keep Tasmanians safe.

“Recent events both here, and in other Australian jurisdictions have shown us how important it is to have fast and secure communications to respond to bushfires, floods, natural disasters, and other emergencies,” the minister said.

“The new TasGRN will give our emergency services and key government agencies an integrated radio network that is purpose-built for the needs of Tasmania. This delivers on past review recommendations, including the 2013 Tasmanian Bushfires Inquiry into the Dunalley bushfires”.

Footage courtesy of @abcnewsaustralia

Described as the worst fires in half a century by the Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub, the Dunalley bushfires led to establishing Tasmanian Bushfire Recovery Taskforce and a subsequent Inquiry in late 2013.

The following state agencies will use the new radio network:

  • Tasmania Police
  • Tasmania Fire Service
  • Ambulance Tasmania
  • State Emergency Service
  • Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
  • Sustainable Timber Tasmania
  • TasNetworks, and
  • Hydro Tasmania

The project, powered by Motorola Solutions, Telsta’s telco partner, will replace five existing networks, including an analogue-based VHF network used by Sustainable Timber Tasmania and Parks and Wildlife Service.

The TasGRN system will also increase the safety of first responders, as each radio has a duress button which can be located through GPS tracking – according to Ellis.

Until now, different emergency response agencies couldn’t easily talk together in the field, which Minister Ellis says limited coordination and “posed a risk to community safety”.

According to Motorola Solutions regional services director Rob Fyfe the network will provide Tasmania’s emergency responders and government organisations with “a highly-advanced, mission-critical communications network to support reliable communications every day while providing the capacity to respond to emergencies throughout the state.”

“The innovative network is built on a feature-rich technology platform to provide a variety of additional capabilities for the state’s emergency services needed for today and well into the future.”

“These include broadband push-to-talk services enabling seamless communication between radios, smartphones and other devices as well as enhanced integration between existing communication centres’ operating systems and Motorola Solutions’ consoles,” he said.

“The new communications service will enable Tasmania’s emergency services to manage increasingly complex operational requirements – from combating natural disasters to dealing with the evolving security landscape and beyond.”

“With our advanced communications solutions and services, Tasmania’s public safety agencies will benefit from more reliable, secure and resilient communications today that will also contribute to making the state safer and more prosperous for the future.”

“The network will provide interoperable communications for multiple government organisations, helping to provide the highest levels of safety for communities as well as the emergency responders that put their lives on the line every day to keep Tasmanians safe.”

The US-based Motorola Solutions is Telsta’s partner in the project. @motorolasolutions

Fifty jobs have been created to build the network, including 135 in-field radio sites, 6,500 handheld and in-vehicle radios, and 23 new radio towers.

Last month, Wood Central reported that Australia should prepare for a “catastrophic 2023-24 bushfire season.” It comes as an ABARES Report published a report warning of the return of EL Niño weather conditions later this year.


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