Road networks are key elements of our critical infrastructure in Australia. They connect our states, cities and towns, and from the heart of our industry to our ports, they are the arteries that deliver vital goods and resources that keep the nation on the move. Our largest cities’ roads are increasingly coming under pressure due to population growth. Road operators are recognising that smart transport starts with unified critical communications to keep them operational, efficient and safe.

Road operators need to enable maintenance engineers to rapidly identify the source of incidents and repair any damage, allow emergency service vehicles to quickly reach accidents and re-route vehicles appropriately, and manage the flow of traffic in the most efficient way possible. Today’s road networks need to allow a range of stakeholders to reliably and securely share information, using both voice and rich data.

Keeping Melbourne moving
Transurban, the organisation which manages and develops urban toll road networks across Australia, grappled with these issues when it sought to upgrade its CityLink communications system. CityLink itself comprises 22km of road connecting some of Melbourne’s busiest areas: the Central Business District, the airport and the Port of Melbourne.

In conjunction with a road widening project, and overall increases in road traffic volumes, Transurban needed to upgrade its communications network to ensure that staff had the connectivity required.

Simoco’s Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) Tier III solution, the Simoco Xd network, is able to offer the highly resilient mission-critical network required. It is designed to deliver reliable voice calls between remote operatives and centralised offices, and also support data features such as GPS tracking.

The solution comprises base sites, operations vehicles fitted with mobile radios and wireless microphones, and a range of portable radios for staff to use. It is resilient and reliable today, and will scale effortlessly in the future too.

Across the eastern side of Melbourne, Simoco also provides a communications network for the city’s EastLink tollway. This 39km stretch of motorway, which connects the Eastern, Monash, Frankston and Peninsula Link freeways, is the largest urban road project constructed in Victoria and is served by a DMR Tier II solution which provides communications for EastLink highway staff.

Real-time assets are also monitored with the Simoco Reveloc Dispatcher and the Simoco Voice Recorder.

Tunnel vision
Crucially, the DMR Tier II and Tier III networks operate reliably and securely across the entire area covered by the two major roads, including major tunnels. Tunnels introduce complex challenges to road communications projects, since generating clear and reliable signals throughout requires specific expertise in radio frequency (RF) propagation within confined spaces.

While installing additional specialist antennas within a confined space is sometimes the most appropriate solution, tunnels generally require a radiating cable or ‘leaky feeder’ approach — effectively a coaxial cable with a number of holes introduced at carefully calculated intervals.

This enables the signal to ‘leak out’ throughout the length of the cable. Implementing an effective radiating cable requires in-depth understanding of both coupling loss, the loss of signal from the cable to the user, and longitudinal loss, which relates to how much signal is lost along the length of the cable.

Working in partnership with our customers
Creating the perfect communications solution for a road network is always a bespoke challenge. From initial design through installation and testing to deployment and ongoing maintenance and support, it is essential to work with a partner who understands the entire process. Simoco Wireless Solutions, with over 25 years of experience in the field, is proud to be able to deliver the communications networks that underpin these vital parts of critical infrastructure for our transport industry customers.

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