It's still unclear what caused the SA Police Services (SAPS) Midrand-based nerve centre to go down in Friday evening, but the recently-deployed R600-million Radio Communication Centre seems to have been cleared as a possible culprit.
The system was down for about six hours, during which time callers to the 10111 emergency number couldn't get through and police were unable to access services through the centre.
So far, the only official comment from SAPS has been that the fault lies with a disconnected Telkom line, although this hasn't been confirmed. However, the explanation would match reports that the radio network remained online, with telephone communications being rerouted to the Benoni call centre.
A report in The Star contains a transcript of a radio conversation between a police officer in the field and a call centre operator that refers to the fact that the operator is unable to call out – however, radio communication appears to be intact.
Initial reports today blamed the Radio Communication Centre, opened in October 2007 at a cost of R600-million, for the outage, but IT-Online is reliably informed that the radio communications network remained operational throughout the incident.
When President Thabo Mbeki opened the centre in October, he described it as a "technologically advanced facility on par with similar systems in many developed nations."
The Radio Communication Centre is designed to accommodate all Gauteng’s police emergency services so there is a single 10111 call centre for the province. It also includes a new Digital Trunked Radio Network, providing overall coverage through Gauteng, and supplied by Altech Alcom Matomo.
The system features secure communications and automatic vehicle location, which will ensure effective control over active police vehicles. Every vehicle and each operational police member on duty in the province has a new digital radio, the handset having the capacity to be used as a normal two-way radio or as a cellular phone.