Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Government radio to talk during Commonwealth Games

The Delhi government is leaving nothing to chance when it comes to security at the Commonwealth Games 2010, scheduled to begin in New Delhi this October

Be it a natural calamity, security breach, medical situation or terrorist threat, the government is pulling out all stops to ensure that its agencies talk to each other without any call drops, hiccups or breach of confidentiality. Towards this end, it has deployed a dedicated radio network based on the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) technology.

The estimated Rs 100 crore government radio network (GRN), being installed by HCL Infosystems and Motorola, will link 18 government agencies seamlessly, including the police, fire services, hospitals, public works department and the Delhi Transport Corporation.

“The project is on schedule. It will be ready for testing by this June, well ahead of the Commonwealth Games,” asserts Subodh Vardhan, director sales and country head (Enterprise Mobility Solutions) of Motorola India.

The network for the Commonwealth Games has been designed to minimise the reaction time in the toughest of situations, ensuring minimal call drops (since cellular networks can get choked) and encrypted communication to maintain the highest levels of security, according to George Paul, executive vice president of HCL Infosystems.

The government radio network is an advanced digital interoperable communication platform that will operate on a secure spectrum and have 46 base stations. It will cover the entire metropolitan area of India’s capital, including transportation networks such as Delhi Metro Railway Tunnels and New Delhi Airport Terminal-II. HCL and Motorola have a seven-year contract with the government for the same.

The radio network is designed thus that the police patrolling the Games can also have an inventory of every device. In case, they lose a handset (walkie-talkie), “they can simply kill it over the air, thus preventing any breach of security”, explains Paul. Besides, multiple agencies can use the radio network. They will have “user groups” which will enable them to talk among themselves without any third party (or other government agency) eavesdropping on their conversation.

“However, in case the police want to talk to the fire brigade personnel, they can switch to that particular frequency with simply a push of a button,” explains Vardhan. Of course, this will take place only with the help of a coordinator.

Moreover, all the police vans, ambulances, fire brigades and other vehicles are global positioning system (GPS) enabled. “The command centre will know the exact location of each vehicle. All locations can be identified on a map, and thus the government agency concerned can locate and summon the required vehicle or another agency within minutes if there’s an emergency situation,” notes Paul.

In case a terrorist is on the lose at the Games, his picture can be instantly relayed to all the handsets of the law enforcement agencies. “Even a new user group can be created instantly for broadcast of any emergency communication,” explains Vardhan.

TETRA (formerly known as Trans European Trunked RAdio) is a Professional Mobile Radio and two-way transceiver (popularly known as a walkie-talkie) specification. It works in a similar way to global system for mobile (GSM) but the handsets have a longer range and there is more bandwidth allocated for data.

Such technologies are available world over — the UK has deployed it, and so has the US and a host of European countries. Closer home, the technology has been used by the Indian Army as well as the Kerala police force. In India, the department of telecommunications has given the Delhi government permission to use TETRA.

Motorola, explains Vardhan, has experience from over 600 digital mission-critical network rollouts across the world. Some of these include the Beijing Special Olympics, Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad airports besides the Central Railway (Mumbai) and is being deployed at the Mumbai metro.

HCL, on its part, has deployed many projects such as Emergency Response Centre for Police (Dial 100) and Ambulance (Dial 102) in cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Bhopal, Nagpur, Pune, Bhopal and Dehradun in partnership with various state governments. “We have a lot of experience in setting up ‘Command & Control’ centres in the country,” asserts Paul.

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