Cassidian demonstrates TETRA and satellite link up at PMR Expo 2012

The company also presented how TETRA can be used to support energy smart grids and showcased a number of control centre solutions to aid management of incidents by first responders

Cassidian demonstrates TETRA and satellite link up at PMR Expo 2012

Cassidian had a wide range of products and solutions on show at PMR Expo 2012. On the product side it was showcasing its TH1n covert radio, the TB3p TETRA base station, as well as unveiling the DXT3p (portable) TETRA switch for the first time.

On the solutions side it had a live demonstration linking a TETRA base station to one of its Astrium satellites as a means of increasing mobile radio coverage. 

It was also promoting its smart grid solutions for utilities using TETRA equipment; its CyberSecurity portfolio; and its control centre solutions including radio dispatch, computer aided dispatch and emergency notification.

TB3p base station - satellite link up

The TB3p miniaturised TETRA base stations(pictured) is Cassidian’s smallest and at PMR Expo the company presented a number of ways in which it can be used to improve radio communications.

One option is to link it with a satellite to provide additional reliable, yet flexible radio coverage. The satellite can be connected to a core TETRA network allowing standard TETRA features such as group and individual calls and data communication to be supported by the satellite link.

The solution can provide infill coverage or extra capacity for TETRA networks in the event of disasters where existing base stations have been rendered inoperable or where there was little or no coverage available in the first place.

One method is to use direction-finding vehicles with space to integrate a TB3p base station and TETRA antenna, along with the services and equipment for linking up with the satellite via the portable components 

At PMR Expo 2012, Cassidian and sister EADS company Astrium demonstrated a live link up. A TETRA terminal was connected to a TETRA TB3p mobile base station at the Expo, which was connected via a cable to the local area network via a computer outside the building. The computer was then connected to the satellite antenna in Cologne. The signal was then transmitted to the satellite, which beamed it back to another satellite antenna connected to a computer in the city of Ulm. 

The computer then transmitted the signal to a DXT3 TETRA base station in Ulm, which then fed the signal via an ISDN telephone link (using IBS Picco automatic dial backup units). The signal was then fed into a second TB3p base station back in Cologne to create a loop, where the call was picked up by a second TETRA terminal.

TB3p base station - Smart Grid solutions 

Smart grids are intelligent energy networks designed to bring together communication and information technology and coordinate the numerous input points of small power generation facilities.

Given that energy networks are critical national infrastructure, the communication technology for smart grids needs to be extremely powerful, available at all times, scalable and future-proof. The communications must be guaranteed, as virtually latency-free delivery of control commands is essential to ensure adaptation to power changes.

But public power networks can quickly hit their capacity limits, so that prompt transfer of critical data is not always ensured. However, TETRA technology can be used as a secure radio technology with BSI-encryption to make it more secure. It can then be used for most varied time-critical and safety-critical control and monitoring tasks in the smart grid.

Cassidian’s TB3p base station is small enough to be integrated into existing utilities technical equipment rooms and control cabinets. The carrier in a TB3p can support a TETRA 1 data channel (single slot packet data) in addition to more traditional TETRA language channels or a TEDS direct access-mode channel.

The company says that in the latter configuration, a TB3p with a simple carrier can deliver an SDS performance that is up to eight times higher and an IP package data velocity of up to forty times higher than with a standard TETRA main control channel, or single-slot package data services.

Cassidian’s TDM880i TETRA data module (a compact printed circuit board) can be used in smart grids to provide positioning, telemetry and remote control applications. It can be used as standalone unit or integrated with a master device in applications such as automatic meter reading, intelligent traffic systems and other embedded systems. It offers IP and SDS data transmission, an I/O connection for telemetry and GPS with LIP (local interface protocol) support, in accordance with the TETRA standard.

Control centre solutions

Cassidian’s Michael P. Kramer explained that the big difference between the company’s radio dispatch solution and others is that it is completely configurable and customisable for different clients. ‘You can add whatever you like to it. The administrator can do it all, it’s very flexible, as you are not locked into a particular design or layout, nor do you need to redesign the software to make it configurable to your needs. It can connect to a TETRA system via an IP connection.’

He said that the CAD computer aided dispatch solution is used for configuring and handling incidents and alerting the emergency services. ‘If you get an emergency call the caller’s location is established via GPS or whatever location finder is on the phone. The dispatcher can then bring up a map on another screen (or split one screen) which will then highlight the location of the incident and the location of the emergency services (via AVL etc),’ said Kramer.

The system can also be programmed by emergency services and utilities to configure pre-defined alert scenarios. The responses and activities of various responders can be pre-defined. For example, ambulance service Y will take casualties to hospital X. The dispatcher can send out planned event schedules, automatic alerts and responses to staff. 

The other application on show was Cassidian’s emergency notification solution. This is also used to alert rescue services and exchange information during emergencies. But it is also used to alert the general public via public address systems/sirens or other methods. In addition it can send short messages to electronic road signs, medium messages via SMS to mobile phones and longer messages via emails.

The solution’s mapping system can be used to map areas affected by a liquid toxic spill or to plot dispersal clouds of toxic gases. Alerts can then be generated to police and others to evacuate the public from affected areas.

The system will automatically select and alert specialist responders needed for a particular task in a particular geographic area, so the dispatcher does not need to search through a list informing him that the alert has been sent to 20,000 fixed phones, for example, with the text message transfer to voice. Users can also confirm back that they got message. The software on the server means the emergency notification solution is scalable from a single site to nationwide alerts.

For information on the TH1n radio see: TWC 2012: Cassidian introduces new slim and light TETRA TH1n radio model

For information on the DXT3p TETRA switch see: Cassidian unveils portable DXT3p TETRA switch at PMR Expo

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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