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Mission critical

Tony Gray, Chief Executive, TCCA, and Robin Davis, Chair of the TCCA Transport Working Group, tell Intelligent Transport how built-for-purpose communication technologies help keep passengers safe and secure on public transport on a daily basis.

Mission critical

AROUND the world transport operators are seeing an increased number of people and goods being transported by a combination of ground and air vehicles – be they cars, taxis, buses, trams, metros, underground and overground railways, aircraft, or shipping. Airport passenger density continues to rise each year; global trade increases which affects shipping; while more and more people adopt public transport as fuel costs rise, which increases passenger uptake on buses, railways and metros. All these developments put pressure on transport operators to ensure that their services are efficient and run on time. As transport services get busier, the public becomes less tolerant of delays and want fast accurate travel information. Passenger safety and security is paramount in the running of a successful transport system. Operational managers require the right technology to help them and their respective companies provide efficient and safe services. Effective voice telecommunications systems covering fixed, wireless and specifically radio means are crucial, and these systems have become mission critical in nature. Their failure causes significant disruption to the travelling public and, in extreme cases, loss of life.

Mission critical users are characterised as those that work in groups and therefore need to communicate in groups using specific and unique functionality. The technology they use has been specifically designed and optimised to meet this fundamental means of working. Cellular phone technology has been developed for person-to-person communications and, as such, is unsuitable for mission critical communications without enhancement. Imagine, for example, a large railway station and a lost child. Communicating a description of that child to several hundred staff by phoning each one would be a hugely inefficient process. Sending a single voice message or an image to all staff simultaneously and efficiently using a digital radio system, however, is accomplished in seconds.

Narrowband digital radio technologies, such as TETRA, that are in use in mission critical networks are designed to be highly resilient, highly available, secure, and provide the broad range of functionality that is required by the critical communications users.

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