Delivering a Public Safety communications network produces a very particular set of challenges and there is no leeway for error when lives depend on being able to talk and send data. National communications networks are nothing new, we use them every day with our mobile phones, and despite the best efforts of mobile network operators there are always black spots where you lose signal or find your call dropping. This can be due to congestion on the network and lack of capacity - which is common in large cities - or poor network coverage as you enter into buildings or travel in more rural regions where the network does not reach. With a Public Safety radio network you do not have that luxury. Not only must the network meet user requirements in all areas, but you need to ensure that coverage and capacity is top quality from day one.
The logistics of installing hardened nationwide mission critical networks can be considerable, and have been illustrated most recently by the work taking place on Norway’s ‘Nødnett’ public safety voice and data communications network. To create a single, reliable, nationwide encrypted TETRA network which provides services from densely populated cities to some of the wildest and remote parts of Europe is incredibly challenging. The core TETRA infrastructure from Motorola Solutions includes a Network Operating Centre (NOC), independent switch sites, more than 330 control rooms and more than 2,100 base stations. To install these base stations within the allocated timeframe, Motorola constructs and tests them in Berlin before shipping the base station, which is preloaded with software, has cabling connected and interfaces already prepared for voice apps and command and control systems. Once in Norway the base stations are transported by truck or airlifted by helicopter to the often remote install sites where they can be connected. This ‘plug and play’ approach enables faster networks roll out and guaranteed quality when turned on for the first time.
But getting a base station to its location is often just the start of a major undertaking. This month saw the successful installation of Europe’s most northerly base station at the Northcape which extends the ‘Nødnett’ network reach to more than 1,500 kms, up and into the polar region. The location is as spectacular as it is difficult, with steep cliffs surging from the Arctic Ocean. All installation teams have engineers trained and certified for ‘working in heights’ and climbing, which on this occasion was definitely required in order to place the TETRA antennas and radio equipment up a 48 meters tall tower located high on the cliffs.
At first glance it appears to be an unlikely place to extend a network, not least because for three months of the year the location is plunged into perpetual darkness, sub zero temperatures and deep drifting snow. But the summer months, with 24 hour daylight, transform Northcape into a major tourist destination with a quarter of million visitors making the trip to the far north. The need for police, fire, ambulance, health and rescue organisations to be able to communicate together for daily incident handling and field operations, and have the ability to respond to a major incident is therefore paramount. In Norway, as with any mission critical network, everywhere is important, and that is why we go the extra mile to ensure Public Safety networks have the reach and the quality of service that is second to none.
You can watch here to learn more about Norway’s nationwide TETRA network and the work being carried out by Motorola Solutions.
Elvan Lindberg is Head of Communications, Europe and Africa, Motorola Solutions. Elvan is on LinkedIn
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