Belgium’s ASTRID emergency service TETRA network coped admirably with the huge increase in traffic caused by the security surrounding the visit of US President Obama to the country last week, according to its operator.
Although the passage of the American president Barack Obama lasted barely 24 hours, the state visit was an enormous operation for the Belgian security services. But everything went smoothly, and the ASTRID systems performed flawlessly: although there was more radio traffic in certain places than on a normal weekday, the radio communication of the police and other emergency services performed well.
In Brussels alone, some 1,200 police officers were on duty. The control rooms and the crisis centre of the government were in the highest state of operational readiness.
On 25 and 26 March 2014, twice as much ASTRID radio traffic was registered over the Brussels-Capital Region – some 24,000 group calls in all. The ASTRID base station near to president Obama’s hotel had to process up to 716 minutes of communication per hour.
The base station at Brussels airport registered up to 10 times more traffic than on a normal day. On 25 March, a lot of communication took place in West Flanders for president Obama’s visit to the Flanders Field American cemetery. In this area, the heavy network load in the peak hours sometimes resulted in minor call set-up delays of a few milliseconds to two seconds at the most.
During such events, good radio discipline is extremely important. During Obama’s visit, police and emergency services made clear agreements about the communication structure and optimum use was made of talk groups.
The ASTRID radio network is designed to cope with high communication peaks. ASTRID carries out systematic monitoring of radio traffic on a daily basis in order to detect and correct any future capacity issues in time. By doing so, the capacity will continue meeting the needs of radio users in the field.