Radio to the rescue

Wednesday, 09 March, 2011

Radio communications have helped to maintain some sense of normality in earthquake-stricken Christchurch in New Zealand.

Tait, one of the area’s most prominent businesses, was not directly affected by the disaster but it has been “getting on with helping customers and looking out for each other”.

Staff ferried batteries, multiway chargers and other equipment through the police cordons and into the civil defence HQ in the city. Extra radios for use by visiting police and rescue teams from abroad were built to order in 36 hours.

In the meantime, an order destined for Brazil was diverted to the rescue efforts.

Interoperability was also put to the test when radios from NSW worked seamlessly with P25 portables and Motorola equipment for Australia.

Tait’s TP8100 portable radios with transportable chargers in a pelican case were widely used by rescue teams pulling survivors from the rubble.

Another company, MiMO Max Wireless, has been put to the test during the emergency. Again, based in Christchurch, the company has been involved with recovery efforts particularly with a local electricity distributor who services Canterbury and Christchurch.

Most people lost power when the quake struck but the radio system remained intact. The SCADA network allowed operators to control substations remotely and take remedial action when needed.

Many fibre-optic and wired connections within the substations had been destroyed. The radio system provided a non-line-of-site link and replaced an SDSL connection originally used for SCADA.

Any physical equipment disturbance was of little concern to the company because the UHF antennas used are only minimally affected by tower alignment when compared with many microwave systems, says the company.

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