Newcastle City Council Radio Upgrade

Newcastle/Hunter Valley to Tweed Heads and Central West

Newcastle City Council Radio Upgrade

Postby matthewn1983 » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:40 am

This has been known for some time now, but recently appeared in The Australian. (Link is screwed, pay to read enabled)


NEWCASTLE City Council was faced with maintaining an ageing radio infrastructure and needed to comply with bandwidth changes for emergency services.

It had a deadline of December last year to be ready for the changes introduced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Its fleet of waste collection trucks, street sweepers and road maintenance vehicles were not fitted with any radio equipment and had been operating with mobile phones. It meant costs were uncontrolled and there was no audit trail of communication.

Council's Blackbutt Reserve and Newcastle Beach, which were heavily populated in summer months, required better communications systems.

"A lot of the internal groups had managed their own two-way radio networks before," NCC electrical projects co-ordinator Peter Crotty says.

"It was quite uneconomical and it didn't work too well. We had so many different frequencies, a lot of radios were quite old and they hadn't been maintained."

Its transmitter repeater stations at Blackbutt Reserve and Strzelecki Lookout were also in need of work.

Newcastle, which has a population of more than 150,000, is the regional capital of the Hunter area, north of Sydney.

NCC, which has about 1000 staff, undertook an audit and decided to stay with radio terminals.

"We decided we would still need them, especially for things like when we have a disaster such as an earthquake or like in 2007 when the storms saw the Pasha Bulker run aground," Crotty says.

Council went out to tender and Gencom Two-Way Radio won the contract in July last year.

It proposed the deployment of Motorola MotoTRBO radio terminals operating from the UHF MotoTRBO wide-area trunked digital radio platform, known as Orion.

The radios were rolled out by the end of January. Gencom created a fleet map that would provide for separate communications for each of the council's major work units.

It deployed Motorola DP 3601 portable terminals and DM 3601 mobile terminals on to the network and into the field to replace any existing radios installed in council vehicles.

"It was decided we wanted to go down the road of having a corporate network with everything documented so we knew where everything was," Crotty says.

In digital network, workers could send text messages, have private talk groups, monitor alarms or after-hours gate openings, give GPS locations and emergency phone access and send data.

About 140 radio terminals are used by a range of council services such as waste collection trucks, street sweepers, road maintenance crews, road asset management services, a disposal centre and beach units.

"It's good knowing we have got a fixed monthly cost," Crotty says.

"There is no network maintenance, which everyone is happy with. The service is reliable, the coverage is fantastic, we are compliant with the ACMA and we have that ability to deal with disaster recovery."

The system allows council's management to be in regular contact with staff in the field and to communicate simultaneously with large groups.

It enables a more efficient management of time and labour. It reduces response times for call-outs where maintenance is required and assists in managing the correct deployment of resources to projects.

NCC roads and asset maintenance services manager Kosta Flamiatos says the radio network has also eliminated black spots.

"With the good radio system that we have got now, the guys can talk to each other, there is less frustration because they are not dropping out or can't hear or are not clear of what they are saying - all those issues have disappeared," he says.

The initial contract cost was $193,000, with an ongoing cost of $3500 per month, including equipment, maintenance and bandwidth.

The final project cost, with some additional services making use of the technology, was $250,000.

"We are talking to our groups as needed as to what features they would like," Flamiatos says.

"The potential then is for other areas that don't have it to realise this could have some great benefits for them too."

CASE STUDY: Newcastle City Council

PROBLEM: Had to maintain an ageing radio infrastructure that needed to comply with bandwidth changes for emergency services.

PROCESS: Gencom Two-Way Radio deployed Motorola DP 3601 portable terminals and DM 3601 mobile terminals using the digital radio platform known as Orion.

RESULT: It provided clear coverage and eliminated black spots for council workers, it has a fixed monthly cost, complies with the ACMA and it has the ability to deal with disaster recovery.
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Re: Newcastle City Council Radio Upgrade

Postby freqwaves » Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:12 pm

Campbelltown Council used SITA BFI to collect our garbage when OTTO bins were first introduced.SITA BFI was on a 490mhz frequency.When the council tookover collecting the rubbish there was no radios in the garbage trucks.I presume the workers use mobile phone when they had a problem which saved on radio costs.Wondering whether now more councils will go digital.Is this still in the VHF Hi bands?
Sutherland Council at present is the only council on the GRN.

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Re: Newcastle City Council Radio Upgrade

Postby citabria » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:01 pm

Do you know what I like about Newcastle...?
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Re: Newcastle City Council Radio Upgrade

Postby Garry » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:45 pm

you like that I live here ??
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Re: Newcastle City Council Radio Upgrade

Postby Mike Alpha » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:27 pm

Apparently there's a problem with the new system though. Every time someone transmits, they assume the expression and hairdo of the man on the left in that picture above.


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Re: Newcastle City Council Radio Upgrade

Postby ivahri » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:50 pm

Wish I had his hair...
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Re: Newcastle City Council Radio Upgrade

Postby Longreach » Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:50 pm

He just looks happy to be there
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