ESN director new Home Office lead at TCCA
Steve Whatson (left), product director for the much-delayed Emergency Services Network (ESN), is the new Home Office representative on the board of TCCA (The Critical Communications Association).
Mr Whatson joined the Home Office in January 2014 as deputy director for the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP), which aims to deliver the world’s first ‘second generation’ integrated critical communications system.
However, amid mounting delays – with the project at least 15 months behind schedule – the Home Office has now been forced to adopt a “phased” roll-out for the ESN under a new “strategic direction” following in-depth review.
Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has criticised the programme to replace the existing Airwave communications system as “over-ambitious” and beset with “endless complications”.
She intends to question Home Office Permanent Secretary Sir Philip Rutnam later this month after the committee had been “repeatedly assured” the roll-out of the new ESN would be completed before the end of 2019.
Mr Whatson joined the ESMCP with responsibility for Technical Solutions, including the delivery of the user services and mobile services, and dependent programmes such as Crossrail and London Underground, and latterly was in charge of user engagement.
Mr Whatson, who has more than 20 years’ experience in IT, joined the Home Office from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) where he managed the ICT security for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
After the Games, he continued to manage the MPS’s biggest ICT projects, including leading the replacement of the UK’s largest emergency services call handling system, driving the force’s mobility programme and replacing the MPS’s legacy systems with a single solution.
TCCA represents all standard mobile critical communications technologies and complementary applications across the world.
Mr Whatson replaces Ari Toivonen as the Home Office representative on the board.