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Three Futuristic Ways Two Way Radio Can Help to Boost Rail Services

21 Jun 2018


Three Futuristic Ways Two Way Radio Can Help to Boost Rail Services

Two way radio has been around for decades. Yet far from being at risk of becoming obsolete as the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, two way radio has resolutely evolved to keep up with the times and maintain a key role in industrial communications.

The arrival of digital two way radio has opened the door to better performance, more features and the ability to integrate wireless radio with other communication and data systems. 

Modern two way radios not only deliver convenient, reliable mobile voice communication like their analogue predecessors, they also support text messaging and internet connectivity, provide security alerts and location tracking, and allow for remote management of networked devices. Some even feature built-in cameras capable of streaming live video.

We asked leading two way radio supplier Brentwood Communications to explain how the latest innovations in two way radio could benefit the rail industry.

Better connections

Traditionally, two way radio has only been able to create local networks. You could, for example, have two way radio on a particular train, or at a single station, but the two networks wouldn’t be able to connect to one another.

Now, with technologies such as Motorola’s IP Site Connect and Connect Plus systems, that has changed. Using IP connections - WiFi, broadband or private WAN - once separate two way radio networks can now be integrated with one another across multiple different sites.

It creates the potential for train guards to communicate with station staff while in transit, or stations within a given district or region to be connected, meaning they are able to share real time service information, or respond to security and safety incidents. 

Maintenance and engineering teams would be able to dial into station networks wherever they go, meaning they always have access to reliable wireless communication.

Remote control

Another of the benefits of IP integration in digital two way radios is that it opens the door for them to become fully fledged data devices. Just as internet connectivity means you can browse, shop and play online games from your smartphone as well as make telephone calls, IP links allow radio handsets to be used for a vastly increased range of functions.

One particular area being pursued is convergence of narrowband radio with cellular broadband via 4G LTE. 4G bandwidth is already being widely used to connect Internet of Things (IoT) devices, something that will be accelerated with the arrival of 5G.

With cellular integration, digital two way radios will be capable of being used as mobile command and control points for IoT devices. In the rail industry, this will potentially lead to staff being able to do everything from open and close train doors to monitor data from signalling equipment from their handset.

Crime deterrent

Finally, rail staff work with certain occupational hazards, and not just those associated with high speed vehicles and high-voltage electrified machinery. Threats to train guards and station staff from members of the public are unfortunately all too common, to the point where both transport police personnel and rail company response teams have been issued with body-worn cameras both to capture incidents and act as a deterrent.

Manufacturers like Hytera have now started to build HD cameras into some of their latest two way radio models. The point is convenience - a single device provides train guards, station operatives and security personnel a means to communicate with colleagues and capture evidence of any incidents that occur.