Tetra | 2014-08-08

ASTRID Sees Traffic Double During WWI Memorial Ceremonies

Source: The Critical Communications Review | Gert Jan Wolf editor

The commemorations were held in several Belgian cities and required additional security measures because of the high presence of royals attending the events as they moved around the country.

ASTRID, the Belgian TETRA network operator for emergency and security services, registered significant peaks in radio traffic during the Great War commemorations that were held Monday, 4 Aug. The commemorations were held in several Belgian cities and required additional security measures because of the high presence of royals attending the events as they moved around the country.

Because of the scope of the security deployed, there was more than double the radio traffic on more than 20 ASTRID base stations in the cities of Liège, Leuven and Mons.

Hundreds of agents of the local and federal police, Defence, staff from town and province councils, the fire brigades, the Civil Defence, the medical services, and national and international security personnel were deployed. Royals in attendances included Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, Prince William and Duchess Kate, Prince Harry and King Felipe VI of Spain. The ceremonies also included many government leaders, ministers and high representatives.

Police radio communications went without a hitch, despite a doubling of the communication on 10 base stations in the Liège area, on nine base stations in Mons and on two base stations in the center of Leuven. On the air-ground-air base station in Liège, which is reserved for the communication of helicopters, there was nine times more radio traffic than normal. The base station of Lantin (Liège) processed up to 105 percent more communication than on a normal day.

“As has already been frequently demonstrated at large-scale events, TETRA proves its added value in critical situations,” said Daniel Haché, director external relations, ASTRID. “Despite an exceptional network load, the infrastructure was able to handle the traffic peaks thanks to constant network monitoring, but above all thanks to the excellent cooperation between all the security services.”

ASTRID registered a traffic peak of 2,000 minutes of communication from 3 – 4 p.m. on the base stations in Liège, and a peak of 800 minutes of communication from 5 – 6 p.m. on the base stations in Mons. With each movement of the delegations from one site to another, the network registered corresponding communication peaks.

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

ASTRID prepared for the events in consultation with the organizing bodies. Coverage and capacity measurements were performed in the preceding weeks. ASTRID provided for a temporary strengthening of the capacity. One carrier was added on the base station in Cointe (Liège), which covers the Inter-Allied Memorial. The mobile base station (MTU lorry) was also set up near the St. Symphorien cemetery. And a reinforced on-call technical team was also arranged to handle any incident.

For the ceremonies, the different security services made clear agreements about the communication structure, and the talk groups were optimally used. Coordination between motorcyclists, foot teams, mounted police units, helicopters, vehicles, command centers and provincial control rooms required structured radio communication.

“Fortunately we registered zero incidents on the memorial day, so the interventions of the police forces remained limited,” said Thierry Brasseur, liaison officer for the governor of the province of Liège in charge of public order. “As far as the ASTRID communication is concerned, everything worked perfectly. ASTRID offers a huge advantage for the operational coordination of large-scale events. Our teams strictly observed the radio fleet map.”