New Mobile Network Enhances Public Safety in Finland

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1 Case Studies, M. Basso Research Note 8 July 2003 New Mobile Network Enhances Public Safety in Finland A private network based on TETRA technology is revolutionizing public safety in Finland. The Virve network makes for closer communication between public authorities and better coordination of rescue operations. Core Topic Wireless and Mobile: Mobile Infrastructure, Technologies and Markets Key Issue How will the evolution of wireless technologies, infrastructures and devices affect enterprises, homes and public premises? In 1985, seven European countries signed the Schengen Agreement, designed to reduce internal border controls. The treaty, now extended to include the Scandinavian countries, mandated strengthening of external border controls and coordinated action on visas. It is now driving the development of a harmonized frequency band and common mobile communication technology for public safety services in the member states. Standardized mobile communication among the European public safety community will allow cross-border communication. Cooperation between police, fire department and ambulance services could be improved within a nation or across borders and safety interventions could be coordinated more effectively during disaster relief efforts or major problems. Several members need to replace old conventional analog equipment soon, and plan to install intelligent digital radio networks. This affects all members technically, financially and politically because of the fragmentation of organizations and procedures among different nations. The Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) standard was developed by the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) for mobile voice and data communication between professional users such as public safety organizations, utility companies and airports. It can be used by high-performance, private, mobile radio network solutions (see "Europe's Standard Shows Way Forward for Private Mobile Radio," TELC-WW-DP-0557). In Finland, an innovative project using TETRA was recently launched to improve national public authority communication capabilities. Gartner Reproduction of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The reader assumes sole responsibility for the selection of these materials to achieve its intended results. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

2 Problem: Finland's border with Russia is more than 1,000 km long, the longest border with a country outside the European Union. This places a heavy responsibility on the Finnish authorities to maintain security under the Schengen Agreement. The task was made harder by the legacy analog communications system, which offered inadequate security and unreliable services. Maintaining this network was increasingly difficult and expensive. Objective: In the early 1990s, the Finnish government decided to deploy a nationwide shared authority mobile network. This solved the problem of the legacy radio network and met the Schengen Agreement requirements by making it easier to communicate and offer better services to citizens. The new network solution had to: Support secure and reliable voice and high-speed data services Be interoperable with other networks Support a harmonized use of spectrum among different authority bodies Use industry standards, like TETRA Approach: The Network for Authorities project, known as the Virve project, was expected to save costs and improve efficiency by replacing all the old radio networks with a shared digital network. In 1995, the Finnish government allocated 134 million euros for investment in this radio network. Motorola and Nokia proposed the creation of a network based on TETRA technology. In 1997, Nokia was selected as the technology provider. Sonera, a Finnish mobile operator, was chosen to plan, construct and operate the Virve network. After the privatization of Sonera, a company called Dedicated Networks of Finland was spun out from Sonera to provide these services to the Virve organization. The Finnish state now owns 60 percent of Dedicated Networks, with the remaining 40 percent being held by Sonera-Telia. The rollout of the Virve system began in It went live officially in 2000, offering all major functionality including voice quality, PSTN access and other TETRA features, such as data services. The network solution adopted was expected to achieve highly flexible data services. The IP architecture is based on over 1,200 base stations linked to 15 switches. The first data service an automatic vehicle location service was piloted in the Kouvola region in More data applications have since been 8 July

3 introduced, including the fire control application, which was extended to 15 emergency centers in Finland. These data applications are based on TETRA Secure Delivery Service (SDS) messaging. There are about 20 SDS servers in the Virve network. IP data services were launched in 2001, including some using Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). The police have adopted WAP because of its simple cost-effective encryption, and speed of response. Results: Since the initial deployment of Virve, the TETRA network has proven to be an essential platform for public safety services. The network is now complete and fully operational. It is one of the few nationwide public safety TETRA network using IP technology. The network serves about 30,000 users across Finland. Primary users are the authorities responsible for public safety at a national and municipal level, in particular: Emergency, fire and rescue services Police Frontier guard Social and health services Customs authority Defense forces The Virve network provides improved, secure and reliable communications to public safety organizations by using TETRA technology. Its major capabilities include: High-quality digital voice communication Clear communication in environments with background noise Minimal call setup time (around 300 milliseconds) No delays in sending and receiving voice messages Efficient group communications Priority on critical calls Data communication High security and seamless integration with all national Emergency Response Centers Authorities have radically altered the way they manage safety operations, especially major incidents and disasters. Thanks to the TETRA network features, agencies cooperate more 8 July

4 efficiently, with seamless voice and data services. All authorities share a single communication network system with common radio frequencies. Use of national rescue resources is optimized and authorities can respond to emergencies more quickly and effectively. Data communications is improving the authorities' efficiency. Using TETRA terminals with WAP, field officers can access central databases quickly and find the information they need to take decisions or actions. For example, fire services may need information about dealing with hazardous substances before arriving at the scene of an accident. Police and customs officers can transmit images like photographs of suspects. Data messaging is popular as a reliable way of reporting information like addresses of incidents or other details that may be misunderstood if spoken over the phone. Dispatchers have found automatic vehicle location using GPS very useful to decide which of the available units are closest to an incident. The control center's role has changed now that it has an improved computeraided dispatching system, an integral part of the Virve system. Investing in a modern national digital communications system has proved to be less expensive than maintaining legacy networks. The IP-based network architecture costs less to operate because network management and updating are centralized. The base station software (mostly located in remote regions) is upgraded remotely from the central servers, avoiding the need to put engineers in the field. Virve's budget is 17.5 million euros a year, which covers the operational costs of the infrastructure (including maintenance of 1,200 base stations and 200 dispatching stations). In 2004, users will start to pay a flat user fee, probably of about 400 euros per year. This will cover all costs when 50,000 terminals are using the network. Because Virve is based on TETRA, user organizations can choose from a variety of handsets and equipment from different suppliers, selecting products that match their needs precisely. The network is performing well, with handsets able to access the network nationwide. Traffic volume is growing: The operator reports a 20 percent increase in calls every month. Critical Success Factors/Lessons Learned: The Virve project succeeded because: Different user groups from the Finnish authorities collaborated closely for five years. The project was coordinated by the Finnish Ministry of the Interior. Network implementation and operation was done by an external operator, Dedicated Networks of Finland, which manages and maintains the entire network from one central location. 8 July

5 All authorities were closely involved in the early specification stages, helping the government to decide what capabilities were needed. Despite its complex evolution, the final system meets these requirements and the authorities have got exactly what they wanted. The project has been completed on time. TETRA was selected as the enabling technology. It supports all requirements, in particular, interoperability among different bodies. Because it is an open standard, several manufacturers (such as Nokia, Sepura, Marconi and Motorola) offer TETRA-enabled terminals. Prices are being cut and form factors are shrinking. Interoperability has been agreed through the TETRA Memorandum of Understanding (a forum representing all interested parties). At the 2002 Finland Nestle Rally, several authorities worked together to ensure the safety of participants and spectators. In the past, the authorities and the rally organizers used different analog radio networks, which were often incompatible. This made communication and cooperation extremely difficult, sometimes impossible. In 2002, by contrast, the rally management team, special stage personnel, course cars and stage closing cars, police, fire and rescue authorities and ambulance services all used the same radio communication network. Users have requested indoor coverage similar to that offered by GSM. This requires different solutions microcells, repeaters, direct mode and trunked mode gateways. These alternatives are being evaluated. Acronym Key SDS Secure Delivery Service TETRA Terrestrial Trunked Radio WAP Wireless Application Protocol Bottom Line: TETRA is a successful technology for implementing integrated public security networks. It can offer high-performance, private radio mobile networks and is a costeffective alternative that delivers security, reliability, interoperability and nationwide group calls. Governments should evaluate the opportunities offered by these technologies to enhance communication for national safety organizations and improve their rescue capabilities. 8 July

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