back to article UK Home Office admits £200m Emergency Services Network savings 'delayed'

The fine minds behind Britain's bungled Emergency Services Network comms system have admitted that its projected £200m savings might not kick in until 2020. Ambulance UK.gov won't Airwave bye for another 3 years, plans to phase in ESN services READ MORE Adding to the multibillion-pound project's woes, Bryan Clark, ESN …

  1. Moog42

    In other news, the Home Office assured the country that a new immigration system post that 'B' word, would be delivered on time and to budget.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Plus the huge savings to be made by replacing the police helicopters with flying pigs.

      1. Fading Silver badge
        Joke

        Tautology?

        Apologies to any serving officers....

      2. Kane Silver badge
        Coat

        "Plus the huge savings to be made by replacing the police helicopters with flying pigs."

        Watch the price of bacon go up.

        I'll, er, grab my coat and leave then, shall I? Mine's the one with the greasy paper bag in the pocket.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Pigs in helicopters...

          Surely we just need flaming ejector seats and we can shower the streets with bacon?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Perspective

            > Pigs in helicopters

            In the US, in contrast, there are bears in the air and rubber ducks drive in convoys.

          2. Teiwaz Silver badge
            Coat

            Flaming???

            Pigs in helicopters...

            Surely we just need flaming ejaculator seats and we can shower the streets with bacon?

            Is how I read that.

            Well, it's one way to deal with crowd control in the inevitable riots after the 51.9% realise what they were promised isn't going to materialise.

  2. adam payne Silver badge
    Joke

    In other news the Home Office released a shock announcement that all outstanding projects will be under budget and on time.

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      all outstanding projects will be under budget and on time

      And works as designed.

      1. DaLo

        And works as designed.

        They always work as designed - designing is the ongoing process that the developers carry out

        The problem is more whether they work as intended or planned.

        Even then, they may work as intended but not work as required.

    2. theblackhand

      In other news, I will do the washing up and the cheque's in the mail...

  3. Cuddles Silver badge

    Could be believable

    "projected £200m savings might not kick in until 2020."

    Did they specify which calendar they are using?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop rewriting history...

    The original aim was 2017, not 2019...

    1. Simon Rockman

      Re: Stop rewriting history...

      With first deployments April 2016

  5. mrfantastic

    Not unexpected

    I worked on a portion of this a couple of years ago. It's the age old tale of crusty old companies trying to enlarge their size of the pie, crap technology and overbearing bureaucracy. TBF when the Home Office are the most sensible and pragmatic bit you know you've got a problem.

    Worst thing is I worked on something I was proud of and spent an entire year on which is this current story is correct will not be used for a couple of years. That'll be 4 years then since I built it, at which point it'll likely need to be reengineered. Waste of time and taxpayer money.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Not unexpected

      "Not unexpected"... since IIRC the contract was placed without a firm specification in place and without the technology (mainly but not exclusively software) not existing either. AFAIK there has not even been a public or semi - public proof of concept demonstration yet; had there been I am certain that we would have heard it trumpeted from the heavens.

      Given there has been no hint of EE finding itself penalised for the accumulated delays it seems fair to assume that there are no milestones in the contract that had to be reached by specified deadlines.

      At the end of all this (if there ever is an end) I can all too easily envisage the much - claimed savings never actually materialising, particularly given the eye - watering sums being charged to extend Airwave in the meantime.

      My worst fear (OK it isn't really as I am retired) is that the emergency services will be forced to adopt a shoddy system that doesn't really meet their requirements while at the same time saving nothing. Given that the choice is between that and the Home Office & senior politicians having to admit that they goofed mightily which seems the more likely?

      1. xpz393

        Re: Not unexpected

        "My worst fear (OK it isn't really as I am retired) is that the emergency services will be forced to adopt a shoddy system that doesn't really meet their requirements"

        If I was past retirement age, I would be fearful of the ambulance service having to rely on a shoddy comms system.

  6. Mark 110

    Well said. The run rate on projects like this is eye watering. Its for a 6 month project over-run to blow the potential savings 20 years down the road.

    Just thinking . . . do we have an example of a big governent technology project thats actually delivered to time and budget (and yes I realise that's more a problem of politicians (and the Capita, IBM, Atos, etc salespeople) making promises they hadn't checked with the techies than the techies failing to do a good job)?

  7. Hubert Thrunge Jr.

    Omnishambles

    Whichever way you look at it, it's a shambles.

    Motorola WHOLLY own Airwave, and paid just over £800M for the network and all of its contracts.

    Had the Home Office had some people with a bit of common sense they would have bought Airwave and then they'd have however many years they would have liked for ~£800M not three for £1.1Bn

    As for the project, it's what happens when you want the moon on a stick, where the seed for the tree hasn't even been planted yet!

    It'll be ready in 2023, maybe. Maybe not.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Omnishambles

      That's one option.

      The other option would be to go to the Army purchasing bods and ask how much it would cost for the police, ambulance & fire service to adopt the new(ish) Bowman radios the Army has.

      Tada, problem solved. Military spec encryption voice & data comms that's proven to work in Afghanistan which is more devoid of comms infrastructure than the shires are for less than the cost of extending airwave.

      You can use COTS devices (ie smartphones) between the APC police car and the end user and it comes ready built with a suite of battlefield management tools suitable for senior management to see where their tanks and infantry police cars and ambulances are and provides easy ways of integrating the police helicopters with the police cars, since the army has already solved the problem.

      It also massively increases the number of deployed users which helps with economies of scale when buying the devices for the end users. It requires very little in the way of development since it already actually works and has been deployed and the only requirements would be to make sure that the services are on their own channels and not capable of accidentally ordering airstrikes. And perhaps changing terminology in the "Battlefield management system" UI's to be a bit less military orientated.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Omnishambles

      Had the Home Office had some people with a bit of common sense they would have bought Airwave and then they'd have however many years they would have liked for ~£800M not three for £1.1Bn

      Part of me wants to agree with you, but your conclusion appears to need (at least) two assumptions to be true, which they aren't.

      Firstly, buying Airwave means taking over the ownership of the base stations and the Switched Management Infrastructure (SwMI) that controls them. Such a purchase would not include the network connections (Ground Based Network) that joins them all together. Those circuits are leased from circuit providers (e.g. BT) so continuing use of the overall system would require ongoing line leasing costs.

      Secondly, neither the base sites nor the SwMI look after themselves; they need people (quite a few of them!) who can attend a site in the event of any problem that cannot be sorted out remotely, including replacement of equipment that has gone faulty and requires repair on a bench somewhere. The response time required in the event of a fault that has taken a site (or part therof) out of service is fairly short (hours not days or weeks) and all those people are a recurring cost that has to be met if the service is to continue.

      Much as we might wish it to be true, it is simply wrong to assume that there would be a cost saving of "system lease cost" minus "purchase price" there for the taking, because sadly there isn't.

      I am not trying to defend the charges that Motorola will present to the Home Office (or more correctly us taxpayers); all I am saying is that your underlying assumptions are untrue and thus your idea, as it stands, doesn't work.

  8. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Why bother?

    NHS will get £350m per week in a few months, won't it?

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