ASTRID TETRA Network, Belgium
A.S.T.R.I.D. is the government-owned corporation responsible for providing communications to all Belgian public safety organisations. Recently, it was decided to drastically overhaul its police call-out, emergency call-centre and mission-control equipment.
A.S.T.R.I.D. opted for a TETRA-based mobile communications system. The heart of the system is a network of dispatching centres, which receive calls through the national emergency number, highway emergency telephones, alarm sensors, and field units. These service points are fully integrated into the public telephone system and the TETRA mobile networks used by the authorities. It is the first all-IP nationwide TETRA network for public safety and security.
A.S.T.R.I.D. is not a GSM operator. Its activities are based instead on the very latest radio communication technology, which meets the specific needs of its target group. The A.S.T.R.I.D. system consists of the following elements:
- The national digital radio network using at least 400 antennas
- Ten provincial dispatching centres supporting the various services
- 10,000 TETRA mobile radios and data terminals
The first 40 base stations were introduced in Flanders in Q3 2001. The project is expected to be rolled out 100% by 2003, with 40,000 users across all emergency services.
Each of the 400 base stations will consist of an antenna and a shelter. Microwave link connections or leased lines form the 'provincial backbone' between the base stations and the provincial radio-relay station and control room. Each provincial Computer Aided Dispatching system (CAD) has a control room with a varying number of workstations and conference rooms. The CAD is able to receive calls, identify the caller, disseminate the calls according to agreed scenarios, provide access to external systems and databanks such as HiLDE, PIP, POLIS, telephone networks, etc., localise vehicles, register calls and help deal with and follow up transmissions. Nokia will supply the first fixed, mobile and portable radios for end-users, but clients are free to choose equipment from other suppliers such as Simoco, Motorola, etc. The only condition is homologation of this equipment by A.S.T.R.I.D.
ADVANTAGES OF A.S.T.R.I.D.
The system brings a new level of efficiency and capability to public safety and security (PSS) communications. It is the world's first nationwide TETRA network with IP capability for PSS to go live. The Nokia-built A.S.T.R.I.D. network in Belgium is also the world's only system in which radio, telephone and CAD are fully integrated in a single environment.
Optimisation for PSS organisations exists; for example, when an accident witness makes an emergency call, an operator in the mission control room can see the location of the caller and the nearest available units before answering the call. After deciding what help is required, the dispatching officer assigns the task to the most suitable unit by clicking a few buttons on the screen, automatically sending the address, task description and other critical details to the unit's mobile terminal. The TETRA network is independent of any commercial networks, which means achieving a connection only takes a fraction of a second. In addition, TETRA allows instant group calls and all the special services required in professional use.
A.S.T.R.I.D. will be able to bring about a drastic improvement in the communication of emergency and security services. A.S.T.R.I.D. will not only serve the purpose of a network operator, but also equip the control rooms and act as a potential supplier of equipment (including portable and mobile radio terminals). The client will be provided with training instructions for the use of the new radio network and terminals.
A.S.T.R.I.D. is a public law company established by the law of 8 June 1998. The company's share capital amounts to BEF 5,800,000,000 (143.8 million euros), held by the Federal State (61%) and the Joint Municipalities Holding Company (39%).