Cape Town upgrades TETRA network

Friday, 04 September, 2015

Cape Town upgrades TETRA network

The City of Cape Town is improving its disaster preparedness by investing R23 million to upgrade its TETRA digital radio communications network with the latest Motorola Solutions technology.

“As a responsible administration that is committed to the safety of our residents, we have an obligation to ensure that our disaster recovery teams are well-equipped to adequately respond to protect the lives of our residents,” said the City’s mayoral committee member for corporate services and compliance, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.

“The upgraded system will help to improve the response times of our public safety agencies across the city, thereby enhancing the safety of our officers on the front line who in turn need to ensure the safety of our communities.”

The City’s recently upgraded TETRA network is the largest public service and safety communications network in South Africa, serving more than 13,500 users. This includes 11,000 of the City’s Safety and Security and Utility Services officials and some 2500 external users of surrounding municipalities, including the Emergency Medical Services of the Western Cape Government.

“These TETRA radios also provide a vital communication link between the City’s Metro Police Department and the community neighbourhood watch (NHW) services. Only NHW services that have a well-managed and secure public community control room are eligible for the installation of a TETRA base radio,” said Councillor Limberg.

“We need to ensure that there is maximum protection of this essential public safety system and guard against unauthorised use and, more especially, unauthorised monitoring.”

The City of Cape Town is currently one of only three municipalities in South Africa that operates its own TETRA network, and it is by far the largest. A few municipalities in Gauteng make use of the South African Police Service TETRA network.

The current system has proven its reliability over the past 14 years. Over and above its effective public safety functionality, its reliability and 99.99% availability have shown it to be financially feasible.

Due to the complex technology being used and the need to sustain reliability and support for this essential enabler of service delivery, the system has to be upgraded every five to seven years. Because of the financial feasibility that trunking technology offers in a densely populated metropolitan area such as Cape Town, the City has managed to keep the system current and continually expands it to meet the ever-growing need for reliable and effective radio communications.

“I think it is important to place the upgrade cost in context. To install new infrastructure from scratch to replace the existing TETRA system would cost in the region of R300 million. One also needs to bear in mind that a public safety system cannot be compared with a commercial system,” said Councillor Limberg.

“The critical factor is the reliability which the current system has provided over the years. There is a need for adequate capacity during emergencies, reliable functionality and backup systems to provide the required dependability.

“The Motorola Solutions TETRA system has fulfilled our requirements over the years and the upgrade will ensure that it continues to do so.”

Image courtesy David Stanley under CC

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