Five minutes with Kylie De Courteney, Managing Director, NSW Telco Authority
Can you tell us about your organisation and its purpose?
NSW Telco Authority is a Statutory Authority within the Department of Customer Service, providing leadership on digital connectivity across NSW Government.
It's our role to drive innovation and collaborative delivery of telecommunications services that are world-class, affordable, resilient and allow citizens to participate fully in digital services and systems.
We also manage the Public Safety Network (PSN) – one of the world's largest trunked radio networks. The PSN provides two-way communications for frontline emergency services to share information and coordinate their response to life-threatening events.
Next to Australia's triple zero emergency hotline, the PSN is the most important critical communications network in NSW, with 65 customers, accessing more than 65,000 registered radios and averaging 1.3 million call per month.
The NSW Government has invested $1.4 billion to expand and enhance the PSN platform. This is a once-in-a-generation investment in radio infrastructure that will help consolidate mission critical communications onto a single network for emergency services.
NSW Telco Authority is the home of passionate people who are committed to delivering world-class connectivity solutions to our customers and the people of NSW. I'm really proud to lead an organisation that is driving meaningful change across NSW Government and putting our customers at the heart of what we do.
Who are your key customers?
Our customers are the agencies that use the PSN for critical communications.
Our core customers are the five emergency services agencies – Police, Ambulance, Fire and Rescue, RFS and SES. By expanding and enhancing the PSN across NSW, we are providing them the radio communications infrastructure they require for mission-critical and operational communications.
We also work with a range of other agencies that use radio communications technology to deliver frontline services including Transport for NSW and National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Our customers also include some important venues in NSW – the Sydney Opera House is one of the largest users of the PSN at a single site.
The Sydney Cricket Ground, operated by Venues NSW, also uses the PSN. The SCG's security teams deploy around 50 radio handsets on game-days to facilitate communications across the venue. During a typical event, staff use more than 600 radios across the venue with an average of 4,500 calls made to the network.
What are the key strategic objectives of your branch?
We have an ambitious strategic plan and I'm really pleased with the progress we've made so far this year:
- Delivery of more than 260 new or enhanced PSN sites under the Critical Communications Enhancement Program (CCEP).
- Expansion of regional telecommunications coverage in regional areas through Mobile Black Spot Program and Connecting Country Communities Fund.
- We are about to launch the new Digital Restart Fund initiative called Next Generation Digital Connectivity – an innovative approach to identifying a range of technological solutions, alongside our customers and vendors and customers.
- Leading a Proof of Concept (PoC) to test Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB) concepts and technologies on behalf of all states and territories, working in partnership with Nokia, Optus and TPG. The trial is expected to be completed by October 2022.
- Finalising the NSW Connectivity Strategy for launch in late 2022. The strategy will prioritise the alignment and optimisation of statewide programs to ensure modern, high-speed digital networks are available to all.
What are you most proud of this year?
For me, leading the Telco Authority simply wouldn't be possible without the dedication and support of our hardworking teams.
From the Black Summer Bushfires to floods in 2021 and 2022, our teams moved into gear to support the emergency response and help protect telecommunications so that frontline responders and communities remain connected.
During the February–March 2022 floods there were approximately 1.59 million radio calls made on the PSN – a 23% increase in calls. We redeployed assets and resources to support flood-affected areas, fast-tracked a new site at Yabra and redirected mobile assets to keep the network operational throughout the crisis. PSN availability and reliability was maintained at around 99.9%, which is critical for our frontline responders.
It's very reassuring to know that, even under extreme conditions, the PSN has proven to be a resilient communications network when it is needed the most and that our people play an integral role in NSW's emergency response.
Another highlight was seeing our people being recognised for their leadership and expertise. This year we won Champion for equality, diversity, and inclusion category at the International Critical Communications Awards (ICCA). At the same awards, Shaunak Patel, one of our Spectrum Engineers, was also named the Young Engineer of the Year – a tremendous global recognition of his talent. We were also recognised in the iTNews Benchmark Awards for Talent Management for our commitment to learning, training and development.
What are your headwinds?
Adverse weather events, outbreaks and natural disasters are of immense significance. Fires, floods, mites, viruses, Foot & Mouth disease... it's a long list! Responding to severe weather can be an incredibly complex undertaking given the unpredictability of weather and the challenges of coordinating efforts across Government agencies, carriers, and emergency services organisations.
Natural disasters can also have a severe impact on our infrastructure. Eleven (11) sites were damaged or lost during the 2019-20 fires and we often need to repair tracks to our sites as well.
We've also experienced challenges with escalating construction costs and supply chain issues. These can have a significant impact on our work program and can slow down our progress, but we persevere!
Like all organisations, COVID-19 had a significant effect on construction and our ability to travel to regional areas. As a team, we've also had to quickly adapt to hybrid working, which brings its own challenges. Does anyone else have video meeting fatigue?
Most visited App?
If you have two phones like me, you'll use different apps on each phone.
- LinkedIn to stay connected to our customers, our people, and our partners;
- Gartner for the latest research; and
- Power BI to track KPIs on our corporate dashboard.
- The School of Life, which is a great app for mental wellbeing and resilience. Some days this app would be handy on my work phone!
On weekends, I enjoy…
I enjoy not being on video calls, except for friends and family interstate and overseas.
Like most parents, I 'enjoy' drop-offs and pick-ups for multiple sports and work for my children.
I read a lot, so you will usually find me reading any time I can over the course of the weekend… and at night when I should be going to sleep!
- Stolen Focus by Jonathan Hari
- Bittersweet by Susan Cain
- Conscious by Annaka Harris
- Maybe you Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
- With the Falling of the Dusk by Stan Grant
- I'm Halfway through Noise by Daniel Kahnemann.