Vodafone muscles in on Gen-i's police business with $159m mobile contract win

PLUS: Police make their Android vs Apple decision. UPDATED

Cops are getting iPhones and iPads as the police force shifts a big chunk of its telco business from Telecom to Vodafone.

Just over 6000 frontline police are getting smartphones, Prime Minister John Key, Police Minister Anne Tolley and Police Commissioner Peter Marshall announced today.

And of those 6000, 3900 will also get a tablet.

The 10-year outsourced deal was won by Vodafone and represents new business for the company.

The smartphones and tablets will be supplied by Apple.

The initial cost of the rollout is $4.3 million over three months, police say. Over the next 10 years, they will spend $159 million in operating expenditure to fund the initiative.  

Over the next three months, frontline cops will move from Telecom to Vodafone mobile connections.

More pressure on Telecom ahead
NZ Police chief information officer Stephen Crombie told NBR ONLINE that Telecom's Gen-i division – which has previously had a lock on police business – will continue to supply mobile mobile services for operational management and administrative staff.

"[But] over the coming year police will be working to determine how many of these mobiles will move to the arrangement with Vodafone," Mr Crombie says.

Expect Vodafone to utilise recent acquisition TelstraClear, which is strong in the government sector, in its effort to prize Gen-i's remaining police business.

Anticipated savings
"We believe greater use of modern technology is the way of the future; it's common sense, and will ensure officers can remain on the frontline rather than returning to stations to complete paperwork," Commissioner Marshall says.

Following an 11-month trial involving 100 staff, police claim the investment in technology will provide productivity benefits of $305 million over 10 years.

Why Apple over Android?
NBR asked Mr Crombie why the police had chosen Apple's iPhone and iPad had been selected over alternatives running Google's Android software (or indeed Microsoft's Windows Phone or BlackBerry).

"The trial showed the most useful tools for officers were small personal devices (such as a smartphone) for making phone calls or text messaging, accessing email, and accessing information and photo databases, and a larger such as a laptop or tablet for staff who need to do more data entry," Mr Crombie said.

"Based on frontline officer feedback from the trial (over 100 staff in four districts trialled smartphones, laptops and tablets over an 11-month period) the preferred devices are the iPhone as smartphone and iPad for the tablet. The approach used to develop the applications means Police can move to other devices with relative ease as technology changes."

The deal is part of the all-of-government procurement process and will see Vodafone link fixed line services to mobility, reducing cost duplication for back office communications. Gen-i is also on the all-of-goverment telecommunications supplier panel.


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