Using TETRA 1 for data

Sepura recently set up data communications demonstrations using TETRA 1 infrastructure to show customers how to get the most out of their existing equipment. James Atkinson reports

Using TETRA 1 for data

TETRA 1 is generally perceived to be a poor bearer of data, but at Critical Communications World 2013, Sepura set up two scenarios to prove that customers with existing TETRA 1 systems can use them for mission and business critical data communications.

Scenario 1: Task allocation/workflow management at a gas installation 

This scenario centres on a business critical equipment room in a gas plant. Each piece of equipment has an RFID tag for continuous remote monitoring and to ensure maintenance and checking tasks are done in the right order, time and date.

A piece of equipment fails, triggering an alarm in the plant’s control room, which also indicates the type of equipment and its location. Using the GPS on the TETRA radios, the controller can see where the nearest engineers on duty are located.

The controller selects an engineer and using an SDA radio app alerts the engineer, texting the nature of the problem and its location. The app includes an ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ button. Once the ‘accept’ message is sent a job ticket is created.

‘Equipment rooms are heavily protected and only specifically entitled people are allowed access to the room,’ says Luke Stanley, international support manager, Sepura. ‘So, the engineer calls up the equipment room number on his radio and sends a request for the door entry code to the controller.’

The controller can see the request comes from the correct job ticket holder and sends the door code; the controller then gets a message notifying him that the door is open. The engineer carries out the fix and then sends a completion form via his TETRA radio to say the equipment is functioning properly again. The controller can corroborate this on his screen and once the door is closed, he gets notification on his control screen that the equipment room is secure.

‘The key point here is that no voice call was made over the radio at any point,’ says Stanley. ‘The whole process is semi-automated, but it is all done using TETRA 1 equipment.’

Scenario 2: Perimeter breach

This scenario replicates a similar situation to the recent attack on the In Amenas installation in Algeria in January 2013.

Sepura has teamed up with South African firm Digital Barriers, a provider of seismic detection nodes. The nodes are embedded into the ground (with GPS location capabilities) and daisy-chained along the perimeter of an installation or a border. Humans, vehicles and aircraft are detected by the vibrations they set off.

Stanley says: ‘A master node is attached to an encoder, usually a satellite or a beacon – you can attach a camera as well.’

TETRA radios are then connected to Digital Barrier’s encoder. In the event of a perimeter breach an alert comes up on the control console. All the TETRA radios get sent a text notifying staff that there has been a perimeter breach and that they must proceed to a designated ‘safe area’.

Once they are in the safe areas, staff send back an ‘ok’ text to the controller, who then knows who got the message and where they are located. Then procedures get under way to find out whether it is a false alarm or something more serious.

An additional piece of clever software is used for video. Digital Barriers has come up with a codec, which allows you to get the best out of TETRA 1 low resolution video streaming.

Digital Barrier’s technology enhances the video or still photograph image. The encoder builds up the last 1,000 frames (there is a more advanced version that can build up far more frames) to produce a hi-res image of a face, for example.

This face can then be sent as a J-peg and pushed out to the security teams’ TETRA radios (here using a Portalify imaging solution). This allows the security team to see who they are looking for.

‘We want to show people how to make the most of their existing equipment. Visitors we’ve shown this to at Critical Communications World have been impressed to see what can be done just using TETRA 1 systems,’ reports Stanley.

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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