Tait Tier III Network – Communication Lifeline Post Cyclone Gabrielle

Tait Tier III Network – Communication Lifeline Post Cyclone Gabrielle

Robust and reliable communications for Civil Defence, emergency and other essential services are vital in times of disaster. All modern communication systems require power and linking systems between cell towers or repeater networks to operate.

As Cyclone Gabrielle wreaked havoc across the East Coast, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay both power and links were tested to their limits. Phone, internet and analogue radio systems right across the area were out of service for several days.

Much of the mainstream media attention focussed on these failures and the actions needed to make sure the communications are made more robust and reliable in the future.

Meanwhile, there was one system that remained operational throughout, while staying under the radar. That system was the Tait Tier III Digital Trunked Radio Network. This VHF Network extends across the Central North Island and is a co-operative between 3 authorised Tait radio businesses: Alcom (Connect), Colvin Communications in Gisborne, and Communicate in Napier.

The Network literally became a communication lifeline for many across the East Coast, Gisborne and Napier region in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Both Civil Defence and the Police relied on the system for critical communications while power, internet and cell phone links were repaired. At its peak the system was running to 95% capacity which is way above normal usage.

There are 3 key reasons why this  digital radio network performed while others did not:

    1. The network is a trunked system with multiple and overlapping site coverage which means if one site fails the system can still operate.
    2. These multiple sites have been built on commercial sites with 24 hour support and  all sites have a combination of mains power, battery and solar power with generator backup.
    3. The sites have multiple radio and microwave path linking options, independent of the Chorus Network.

While overall the network performed extremely well there were lessons to be learned for making the network even more robust.  Honing in on the detail of where potential power or linking weaknesses may occur and making sure there are multiple back-up options is key.

Radio networks are still a useful tool for many in their day to day operations and Cyclone Gabrielle reminded us that it is in times of disaster that they become critical to preserving life and getting help where it is needed as fast as possible.

If you would like to know more about Alcom Connect and how it might help your business or organisation get in touch to arrange a free demo.