The Home Office has added two years to its contract with Motorola Solutions under the Emergency Services Network (ESN) programme.
It has posted a notice on the modification saying the deal will now run until December 2024, reflecting the latest forecast that the ESN will not be fully rolled out until the end of 2022 at the earliest.
This follows the recent warning from the National Audit Office that the ESN is unlikely to be ready by the 2022 deadline – three years later than the original date – and that the costs are going to outweigh the savings until at least 2029 – seven years later than originally intended.
It also refers to its decision, made last year, to use Motorola’s Kodiak solution, rather than the original choice of Wave 7000, to provide the ‘push to talk’ application on devices to work on the ESN.
The move was prompted by the desire to move to a product based on internationally recognised public safety standards. The ‘push to talk’ function effectively turns mobile phones into emergency services radios with data capability – a package of telephone, messaging and data services, and an air to ground communications apps.
The Home Office says in the notice that the change will de-risk delivery and enable the programme to move more quickly to a standardised solution. It adds that there is no viable alternative to procuring the relevant service from Motorola, as going back to the market could add another five years to the roll out and add up to £2.6 billion to the costs.
“The Home Office needs to secure delivery of an ESN solution as early as it reasonably can, both to avoid high ongoing costs of the Airwave service which ESN will replace; and to provide end users with more modern and advanced functionality,” the notice says. “The Home Office considers this variation represents the best option for securing delivery as early as possible.”
In a recent blogpost, Bryan Clark, ESN programme director, said there has been good progress in refocusing the components around the Kodiak software and replanning aspects of the programme.
Motorola is one of the prime contractors for the ESN, providing user services under lot 3 in a deal now valued at £401 million, up from the original value of £294 million.
The NAO report highlighted earlier disagreements about the true scope of the company’s role, and challenges in locking down the specification for software and user services.
Picture from Scott Davidson (modified), CC 2.0 via flickr