The Home Office provided a positive update to the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), addressing recommendations made in a report earlier this year.
Philip Rutnam, permanent secretary for the Home Office, said the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) remains committed to providing emergency services users the time they need to transition safely to the Emergency Service Network (ESN) and are working on the assumption of a continuing need for a 27-month user transition period once mobilization has been completed.
“The delay in the program has given more time to prepare for transition, and this could ultimately mean the total length of time required for transition could reduce,” said the letter to Meg Hillier with PAC. “However work continues on an integrated program plan to cover both the mobilization and transition periods.”
Rutnam said the Home Office has been engaging with the user community to get its feedback on the updated program plan, transition timelines and regional transition running order. ESMCP recently deployed a team of local implementation leads, funded from departmental budgets, to help users develop their own individual transition readiness requirements and plans.
The current transition timetable includes a contingency of two months within each of the three emergency service regions' budgeted 12-month transition period. Following completion of the current review of transition timing undertaken in conjunction with three emergency service user representatives, the program will re-assess the level of contingency necessary to support the revised plan.
“I would like to reassure you again that there will be no risks taken with public safety, and there will be no gap in the emergency services' communications provision,” Rutnam said.
In August 2016, the Home Office and the other emergency services agreed to a change control note to the Airwave emergency services contracts that makes a provision for extension of the contracts beyond the national shutdown target date of 31 December, 2019.
“Furthermore, the program is separately forecasting what further Airwave extensions might be required to provide for an extended period of transition,” the letter said. “The cost of these extensions will be included within the full business case forecast that guides the departments in forming their future budgets for the program.”
Rutnam said a final transition plan will be in place by December, and the Home Office will provide another update in November.
The full letter is here.
The Driving Innovation in Crisis Management for European Resilience (DRIVER) project is being relaunched as DRIVER+.
The Driver Project originally launched in May 2014 and was funded under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The original project worked to help emergency management practitioners cope with current and future challenge due to increasingly severe consequences of natural disasters and terrorist threats by the development of uptake of innovative solutions that address operational needs.
To kick off the relaunch of the project, all partners met in Rotterdam, Netherlands, 25 – 27 September for a meeting that set the stage for the next years of activities. The meeting also facilitated discussions with invited European Union funded projects, initiatives and practitioner organizations on concrete opportunities for collaboration in the near future.
The project aims to deliver the following by April 2020, the end date of the project:
• A pan-European test bed for crisis management capability development will enable practitioners to create a space in which stakeholders can collaborate in testing and evaluating new products, tools, processes or organizations solutions.
• A portfolio of solutions (PoS) in the form of database-driven website will aim to document all DRIVER+ solutions. These will be tested via trials during the project lifetime. Ultimately, the PoS will be opened up to any external organizations willing to share data and experience of solutions.
• A shared understanding in crisis management across Europe, through the enhancement of the cooperation framework will be achieved, amongst other methods, by building a dedicated Community of Practice in Crisis Management (CoPCM), closely aligned to and supporting the Community of Users (CoU) initiative from DG Home and the Disaster Risk management Knowledge Center.
To achieve all of that, a series of events, each serving a particular set of objectives will be organized during the project’s lifetime. Benefiting from the DRIVER+ test bed components, four trials will be organized to operationalize and test the solutions, and the results will be stored in the PoS. The trials will be based on updated crisis management gaps and practitioner needs.
The main gaps and needs identified so far are cross-border tasking and resource management, high-level coordination, volunteer management and situation assessment and logistics. Towards the end of the project a final demonstration will showcase the selected solutions and demonstrate the added value when the European level is brought into operation.
Also, in order to strengthen the policy research dialogue on research and demonstration activities in crisis management and to increase the EU added value of the DRIVER+ trials, policy research roundtables will take place and will involve policymakers before the trials and final demonstration. This will allow discussion on potential EU policies to be addressed and the involvement of DG Home and DG ECHO/ERCC staff members. There will also be roundtables after the events to allow discussions on the results and the potential policy implications.
To complement the activities, two editions of the Innovation for Crisis Management (I4CM) event will be organized in Warsaw and Copenhagen so as to address crisis management practitioners and stakeholders at a regional level, therefore providing a relay towards the EU level and complementing initiatives such as the CoU. A final conference will be organized in Brussels to communicate on the final project results.
Between DRIVER and DRIVER+, the project structure has been simplified to clearly link the objective and the results of the project and to improve the path towards successful implementation of the project plans. To reflect the new architecture of the project, the leadership and project management team have changed, some partners have left and some new partners have joined the consortium.
In addition, the involvement of external stakeholders, crisis management experts, practitioners and solution providers has been significantly enhanced. DRIVER+ is resolutely open to the external world and its success will largely depend on its capacity to develop strong links with external collaborators. To achieve this, DRIVER+ will foster the formation of the CoPM, linking existing crisis management networks and organizing events especially tailored to that purpose.
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