Belgian TETRA Operator Registers Peaks in Radio Traffic for WWI Ceremonies (10/31/14)
Friday, October 31, 2014 | Comments

ASTRID, the Belgian TETRA emergency services operator, registered significant peaks in radio traffic during the WWI commemorative ceremonies held 28 October in West Flanders. The special security measures generated significantly more radio traffic than normal during the two commemorative events in Nieuport and Ypres.

Many events are being staged throughout Europe to commemorate the start of the First World War. In Belgium, several remembrance ceremonies have already taken place in a number of cities throughout the country. The presence of numerous members of the royal family, world leaders and high representatives meant that special security measures were absolutely imperative.

Teams of the local and federal police, defense, staff from town and province councils, the fire brigades, the civil defense, the medical services, and national and international security personnel were deployed. The provincial control room and the crisis and command centers were veritable beehives of activity. Management of the events by all of these components of the security system generated far more radio traffic on the ASTRID network than on a normal day.

The ASTRID systems played their supporting role in a flawless manner. Radio communications went off without a hitch, despite a massive increase in radio communications on 10 base stations in the region. The base stations covering the two commemorative events processed the most traffic: up to five times more communications than that of a normal day in Nieuport and up to seven times more than a typical day in Ypres.

In March, U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the Flanders Field American cemetery in the same region represented a good test for large-scale communications on the ASTRID network.

In the provincial control room, an interactive map tracks the movements of field agents in real time. The position of the teams is determined via the GPS built into their ASTRID radios, and they can be dispatched in another direction at any moment. The helicopters transmit live video images, so that the teams can react immediately.

“The localization of TETRA radios was really exceptional and had a positive effect on operations,” said Ypres Police chief Georges Aeck. “The command-and-control room did not have to request teams to update their positions. All of the teams were visible in real time on large screens. As far as the ASTRID radio communications is concerned, everything worked smoothly. ASTRID offers a huge advantage for the operational coordination of large-scale events.”

ASTRID prepared the events in consultation with the organizing bodies. Coverage and capacity measurements were performed in the preceding weeks. At the request of the local security forces, ASTRID added one extra temporary carrier on one Nieuport base station as both a preventive measure and for better user comfort. Meanwhile, a permanent carrier was added on the Ostend base station. This was because of medical services being kept on standby at the local airport during the commemorative ceremonies and because many other events will be organized in Ostend in the future.

Coordination among motorcyclists, foot teams, mounted police units, helicopters, vehicles, command centers and provincial control rooms requires structured radio communications. For events of this size, good radio discipline is an absolutely necessity: avoiding individual calls and scanning, using direct mode operation (DMO) on short distances, keeping the push to talk (PTT) button pressed, and keeping calls short and to the point.

The ASTRID radio network has around 520 base stations located throughout the Belgian territory.

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