Building on its established position in
the public safety sector in Australia,
Mobitex was recently selected in a
very competitive tender process by
the authorities in State of New South
Wales for a wireless data network
that will initially be used by the
ambulance service and later by most
public safety services in the State.
The initial application in the State
Government’s new wireless data network
will be similar to that already
deployed for the Queensland Ambulance
The New South Wales network, which will cover Sydney and surrounding areas, will be the second private network in Australia, joining that already operated by the Ambulance Services in Queensland. The public Australian Mobitex network is operated by ADT Wireless, which will also take responsibility for operation and management of the New South Wales Network.
“This is a huge win for both our company and for the people of New South Wales. The mobile data radio service is already being used by the Queensland Ambulance Service, where it has proven to be a lifesaver,” says Bill Delaney, CEO of Technisyst Pty Ltd, which is the prime contractor for the five-year contract.
The new Mobitex network will augment the Government Radio Network (GNR), which is primarily an analog voice network that has been operating in New South Wales since 1993. As of April 2001, the latest date for which officially published statistics were available, the GNR had over 12,000 users from 40 agencies and handled an average of 12 million calls a month. Increasing demand for not only voice, but also data applications has resulted in an increased demand for data capacity that the government is meeting by building a new network to be used initially by the NSW Ambulance Service.
“The new system will also overcome radio
black spot problems,” says Robert Gray, corporate
services general manager for the New South
Wales Ambulance Service.
The New South Wales authorities wanted a network that would be built from the ground up and that would have the capacity to handle government communications in the future. A threestage tender process was initiated in which demands on data security, performance and scalability were extremely high.
“The government demanded that no data would be lost and that round-trip message times would be less than ten seconds at all times under all traffic conditions. In addition, the requirements called for scaling the system from a single agency with a few hundred terminals to multiple agencies with thousands of users,” recalls Bill Delaney.
Furthermore, the government wanted a turnkey
system and a single supplier, who would be able
to build the network, supply the terminals,
implement gateways and take responsibility for
systems integration. Technisyst was able to fulfill
this requirement by teaming up with Ericsson
and Australian Mobitex operator ADT
Wireless, two companies with which Technisyst
already had a well established partnership.
Key connectivity requirements
Technisyst thus assumed much more than a systems integrator role in the New South Wales project. While partners Ericsson and ADT Wireless are largely responsible for planning and building the network, Technisyst is providing mobile data terminals based on its TC-Connect embedded mobile computing platform, and a sophisticated Message Management Facility which includes Technisyst’s TC-Gateway product. TC-Gateway allows simultaneous connection to multiple networks and hosts, application and systems software.
“Supporting multiple networks and multiple hosts was a key customer requirement,” notes Bill Delaney. “While the Mobitex system meets all the requirements for communications in public safety services, the customer wanted connectivity options to other networks, such as GPRS and CDMA-1xRTT. We also allow connection to the public Mobitex network in disaster circumstances.”
Interconnection to other networks was
not simply a matter of convenience, however.
Because communication is the lifeline of public
safety services and must never fail, there always
has to be an alternative when a unit is out of
coverage, for example. In critical situations
when many units must respond at once and
their actions must be coordinated centrally, it is
also essential to have a gateway to public networks.
Technisyst was able to provide these and
other capabilities using its TC-Gateway product,
which is an intelligent software switch that
provides simultaneous connectivity to multiple
host systems, simultaneous connectivity to
multiple wireless and fixed networks and simultaneous
support for multiple remote clients.
Real-time performance monitoring
Performance monitoring was another key customer requirement. New South Wales did not just want historical statistics and log files documenting network performance over time. The customer demanded a system that would allow real-time monitoring of packet transmission and application performance. The government tender also included two contracts, one for building the network and another that is a five-year management contract based on service levels defined by the customer on the basis of performance data.
“While the basic functionality was available in the network, Technisyst engineers faced a formidable challenge to integrate performance measurements from the network, linking infrastructure, and the application. We were fortunate in that the TC-Connect embedded computing platform used in this application provides many connectivity options and supports a wide variety of devices, including mobile data terminals, radio modems, GPS devices, various sensors and other equipment, such as patient care systems,” notes Bill Delaney. TC-Connect provided the computing capacity within the mobile vehicle to initiate and monitor network performance measurements even when the vehicle was outside network coverage.
The performance monitoring system interacts with the network management system, operated by ADT Wireless, the Australian public Mobitex operator, and the IP router-based linking infrastructure. More importantly, there is also a web-based interface that allows the customer to monitor actual performance at all times.
Security was a particularly important consideration
in designing this interface, since it
was absolutely essential that only authorized
persons would be able to access this data. Both
host and mobile access is only granted to
authorized parties. Data sent over the network
may also be protected by a variety of compression
and encryption algorithms at both the
communications and application layers. Finally,
each wireless modem is uniquely identifiable, so
that each modem’s access to the network and to
particular host systems can be managed individually
and permanently disabled if the
modem is lost or stolen.
Build-out of the New South Wales network is now proceeding at a rapid pace. Field testing will begin shortly, and when the first stage of the new network is completed later this year, it will consist of some 35 base stations and serve more than 300 ambulances.
“Work on the system has already begun, and it is expected to be operational before the end of 2003,” reports a spokesperson for New South Wales’ Information Technology Minister Kim Yeadon, adding that “other agencies are expected to use the data system as soon as the Ambulance Service has confirmed its performance.”
Judging from the performance of the same Mobitex application in Queensland, this should not take long. Residents of New South Wales should also quickly notice a significant improvement in emergency care.
“The Queensland Ambulance Service leads
the country in clinical care and paramedic training
and is among the best in the world in providing
state-of-the-art emergency care,” states
Mike Reynolds, Member of Parliament and
Minister for Emergency Services, adding that
ministry statistics show that the Queensland
Ambulance Service attends to more patients per
1,000 population than any other service in the
nation; achieving results 19.7% above the