Digital radio to the rescue

BAI Communications
Thursday, 07 March, 2013

Queensland’s recent floods and storms taxed safety radio networks to the limit, but one P25 system held strong during the worst of the weather.

The Queensland Government has paid tribute to Ergon Energy’s Toowoomba staff for their outstanding work during recent severe weather events, made possible by Airwave Solutions Australia ‘Ubinet’ P25 network technology, which continued to function when others failed during the worst of the floods.

Working with Ergon Energy, Airwave Solutions developed the P25 digital voice radio and narrowband data communications system - the first trunked P25 network to be implemented in Queensland.

The Toowoomba communications network covers an area of 100,000 square kilometres with 350 users and 170 vehicles connected via mobile radio handsets and GPS technology.

Airwave Solutions Australia CEO Malcolm Keys said that the new network was put to the ultimate test during the flooding aftermath of Cyclone Oswald and had passed with flying colours.

“Not only was this the first trunked P25 network to be implemented in Queensland, but also the first in Australia to be tested under such extreme conditions,” Keys said.

“Throughout the duration of the devastating storms the system did not fail once - enabling Ergon staff to communicate with the control centre when all the other systems failed. This in turn made it possible for them to target areas of extreme need and get the electricity switched back on where it was needed most.

“The P25 network technology is internationally recognised as the world’s best practice in emergency services communications technology and is unparalleled in its resilience capability.”

Ergon Energy Group Manager (Telecommunications) Andrew Deme said that the radio network’s durability and resilience was crucial to the flood recovery effort.

“Ergon’s control centre is operated out of Rockhampton and when the commercial carrier network failed, the only communication between the control centre and the field staff was the P25 radio network,” Deme said.

“The network technology enabled us to have electricity safely restored hours sooner for several thousand customers as part of a coordinated rapid response effort.

“We are working closely with Airwave Solutions Australia on the planning of the state-wide rollout of this technology so that all Queenslanders can benefit from the improved response capabilities that the P25 network offers.”

The new core network is planned to eventually be deployed across Queensland and will be equipped with an interface that could allow dispatch, talk group interoperability and internetwork connectivity with other P25-compliant networks across regional and state boundaries.

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