When it was decided that Pope Benedict XVI would visit the Italian cities of Aquileia and Venice in May this year, security and safety were paramount.
At the core of any such operation is the communications team, who proved to be a vital asset during each and every step of the tour, ensuring the Pope and his team could go about their stay safe in the knowledge that they were being protected 24/7.
Consequently, the region of Veneto and the Municipality of Venice selected SELEX Elsag to ensure the availability of emergency communications in the area.
The firm, which is developing a TETRA network for the local police forces in the region of Veneto, was then tasked with installing a radio coverage subsystem to support communications in the historic centre of Venice – an area of complex electromagnetic activity due to the high density of historic buildings and the associated marine environment.
In Venice, a more powerful network supported the town’s central communications, which was connected to the regional radio system. This provided the police with enhanced capabilities, enabling them to support both day-to-day activities and special occasions such as the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.
According to SELEX Elsag, the subsystem includes five TETRA radio base stations, distributed on mainland and island sites, together with three repeater sites.
Andrea Biraghi, VP of Fusione, SELEX Elsag, explains that the company won a public tender for Venice last year in the face of competition from Motorola.
He says the deal means continuity for both parties, with SELEX Elsag having provided an analogue network for the emergency services in the past.
‘Venice represented a unique scenario with several problems, due to the narrow water channels in which it is really difficult to guarantee coverage to the historic buildings. It is also complicated to obtain installation permits and ensure signal propagation in a ‘water’ environment, which is very different from the traditional scenario,’ he adds.
That said, Biraghi believes the strong collaboration with the local public administration ensured that any problems they had were solved – that and the continued quality and reliability of the networks deployed.
With the stronger coverage, increased resilience, bigger capacity of traffic and better quality of service that was achieved, Biraghi says the deployment can be considered a success.
‘This proves once again that the only way to manage communications during an event with large participation by the public – and consequently saturation of the public cellular networks – is the realisation of private networks based on TETRA or DMR standards,’ he says.
SELEX Elsag is already in the process of implementing a national radio-mobile network based on the TETRA standard in Italy, adding to the 150-plus TETRA radio-mobile systems installed in more than 30 countries.