Saturday, April 20, 2024

WA Police to add world-first satellite technology to its arsenal

The Western Australian Police Force will become the first law enforcement agency in the world to integrate low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite technology with its current communication network, giving officers high-speed internet anywhere in WA.

Making up one third of the continent, WA has one of the largest police jurisdictions in the world – and just 26% of the State has mobile phone or radio coverage.

WA Police Minister, Paul Papalia said the $8.5 million upgrade will enable police operating in remote locations to instantly send and receive mission critical information, access automatic number plate recognition data and real-time emergency alerts. 

It also means officers will be able to livestream body worn and vehicle dashboard camera footage to the Perth-based State Operations Command Centre, as well as aircraft and security camera vision.

“Every Western Australian knows how difficult it can sometimes be to find phone and internet coverage in a State the size of WA,” the Minister said.

“The WA Police Force operates in one of the largest geographical police districts in the world and it’s about to have complete communication coverage.

“This high-tech upgrade will boost the ability of police to solve crimes and co-ordinate large scale emergency responses like remote searches for missing people.

“For the first time, officers will have high-speed internet no matter where they are in the State, meaning regional WA police will have the same level of connectivity as their metropolitan colleagues,” he said.

A recent 12-week trial highlighted the law enforcement benefits of utilising in-orbit spacecraft communication networks.

Officers working from isolated police stations in Kintore, Balgo, Burringurrah, Kalumburu and Jigalong benefited from access to high-speed internet.

LEO communication equipment was also tested by Water Police and during high-profile operations such as Exmouth’s Total Solar Eclipse event in April.  

The satellite technology will be accessible from 550 WA Police vehicles, and close to 130 regional stations benefiting day-to-day patrols as well as specialist teams such as the Regional Operations Group, Tactical Response Group and Regional Enforcement Unit.

“Being able to livestream vehicle dashcam and body worn camera vision will revolutionise the way our police operate in remote areas,” the Police Minister said.

“It will improve situational awareness for officers on the frontline, helping them to make informed decisions during emergency situations.”

WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said that in a jurisdiction as vast and geographically challenging as WA, communications has always been a challenge.

“Going forwards, the Western Australia Police Force will have the best communications capability of any jurisdiction in Australia, if not the world,” the Commissioner said.

“The technology means our officers in regional WA will have real time contact and the real time support from the entire Western Australia Police Force.

“We can now watch live stream body worn cameras and dashcams from the State Operations Command Centre in Perth, and provide specialist support to our frontline officers anywhere in the State, at anytime.

“Not only will this increase community safety, it will increase the safety of our officers. 

“Real time communications means a real time capability to respond, 24/7,” he said.

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