Plans for an overhaul of the triple-zero system

Published: 07 October 2017

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The triple-zero emergency service line could be set for a massive overhaul, under a new plan being explored by NSW police to allow people to text for help, send pictures and even livestream footage from critical incidents.

Official documents refer to ‘Next Generation 000 initiatives’, which would see a system upgrade that keeps pace with community expectations by allowing people wanting help to use imagery, analytics, social media and SMS.

“The criminal element is getting smarter, so we’ve got to make sure as a criminal justice system and as a police force that the NSW Government makes themselves available to any technology that can improve the ability of police to lock up bad guys,” David Elliott, the Minister for Counter Terrorism, told TEN Eyewitness News.

“This is about the NSW police force going out to the market and seeing what benefits are out there that we’re not using at the moment. That’s something that a modern, professional, well-resourced police force should do.”

There have been calls for a modern overhaul of the system since 2014, as a working paper by the National Emergency Communications Working Group Australia and New Zealand found that one in five people already thought you could text 000 for help.

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Minister for Counter Terrorism David Elliott is getting behind the proposal.

Police also want to explore geographical mapping through smartphone technology, to pinpoint callers’ locations and provide a quicker response in time-critical situations.

“Anything that’s going to allow police and emergency service workers to spend more time on the job is going to be good, and technology is doing that,” Minister Elliott said.

“Any change using technology could only be positive and it will only result in a safer community.”

Minister Elliott said that while any technology is “vulnerable” and not “foolproof”, NSW security systems that are in place would protect personal data from getting in the wrong hands, and the benefits of the improved technology would certainly outweigh the risks.

The NSW Police Force will start reviewing emergency response services from the end of October.