CCBitesize interview – Brussels STIB

STIB project and radio spectrum manager Frédéric Jans-Cooremans discusses the importance of radio discipline when it comes to public transport comms

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What lessons did you take from the 2016 terrorist attack when it came to constructing your own TETRA network?

Never rely on a network that is not bound to QOS, and high level of priority for your own critical communications. That day, we were happy to have kept our own radio infrastructure for our trams and bus communications.

Our [own] TETRA network - not yet fully installed - was ready to integrate more capacity. We used the opportunity to add more slots!

Frederic Jans-Cooremans
Frederic Jans-Cooremans

What are the fundamental differences in need between public transport and public safety when it comes to communications?

Of course, public safety networks need to be resilient and have a very high level of priority. Public transport could work on a fallback mode, relying on the drivers and site distance to keep the rolling stock moving. But [in that case] the regulation, coherence and ease of the passengers will be deeply compromised. 

Nowadays, it is not only the dispatcher and the drivers that need to communicate. Passengers need to have a lot of information, for instance regarding the next bus, the possible real-time transit for their journey, and ticket payment. Without data, we can’t tell where a tramway or a bus is located; we can't overcome a blocked track.

Moving people in a city is a challenge every day. But when a big event arrives, it becomes a moment to show your real capacity.

How important is radio discipline, and how can it be used to maximise network coverage?

Radio waves are being increasingly used by everyone in the world. Automatic metros, CBTC are based on radio communications to provide movement authority to the rolling stock. This vital link replaces the ‘green and red’ light of the signalling system. The system always needs to be in contact. Losing the connection means stopping the metro. 

Where do you see organisations getting it wrong when it comes to that?

No communication means incoherent action where everyone relies on their own behaviour, non-effective management and fuzzy actions. [Organisations] have to be well prepared and know how you have to act.

‘Critical narrowband: The user perspective’ takes place 23 & 24 June 2021. For more information and to book your place, click here

Philip Mason

Managing Editor, Critical Communications Portfolio, Mark Allen Exhibitions

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