Comms backbone for crisis management 

A bespoke communications system has been designed to handle both control and situation recovery during and after major terrorism incidents and other human and natural disasters. The system is mobile/portable, and capable of backing-up a variety of communications links and increasing information flow around the incident location.  There is a significant need for such a system. In a crisis, a robust comms platform can both help rescuers in their work and provide a tool to examine and update critical information.

This system supports Voice, Data and Video (GSM/E1) and is designed for easy handling and transport in difficult conditions. Outside emergency situations, it can be used to assess coverage before permanent installation, and to maintain coverage of existing installations – easily done, because the system is mobile. The revenue will be generated from system sales, maintenance and part of the client’s usage but not in a national emergency.

The features provide a portable/mobile communications (GSM/E1) solution to a variety of needs:
• Disaster Recovery
o Loss of existing GSM network (mainly MSC).
o Replacing a failed GSM cell.
o Instant emergency communications platform, providing GSM and E1 capability on site in a crisis.

• Creating temporary capacity:
o Sports/Political/Music events/Exhibitions etc.
o Redirecting comms traffic.

• Rapid deployment:
o of standalone GSM networks (including MSC)
o of network expansion, e.g. fibre, cables and wireless

• Private GSM/E1 Networks The system will withstand severe demands:
• Deployment by helicopter
• 4x4 deployment
• power cuts or non existent electrical supply
• reach antenna height up to 100m

The system’s comms architecture and physical design can be adapted to client needs, band availability and budget. But the concept stays the same. Mechanical design, frequency (band) equipment and specific comms hardware are not covered in this document, as each customer has different requirements. The system has four main communication links:

•   Satellite
•   GSM
•   Microwave (preferably WiMAX )
• Fibre optic It is recommended that all four will be operated simultaneously; but if necessary the system can operate with just two of these links. The system deploys two parts of the GSM system: • Base Transceiver Station (BTS)
• Base Station Controller (BSC) A number of portable BTS units can be linked to a single portable BSC unit using GSM band and/or WiMAX.

The portable BSC is connected to a remote MSC fixed installation by satellite or fibre. An off-the-shelf E1-feeder device connects the portable BTS and the WiMAX link. The E1-feeder also connects the WiMAX link to the portable BSC unit. In this way, the GSM coverage can be made flexible by adding extra portable BTS units and further sectors to the WiMAX band. A satellite link between the portable BSC unit and the MSC fixed installation is vital, as the portable BSC unit can work anywhere, independently of the MSC fixed installation, easing pressure on the local MSC hit by the crisis.

So, if a crisis took place in London, all GSM services provided by the portable system could be redirected to, for example, Glasgow MSC’s fixed installation, so easing traffic on the crashed London MSC unit.

The same can apply using fibre-optics, with a WiMAX link connecting the portable BSC unit to the nearest fibre access. Clearly, the remote MSC fixed installation must also be connected to the same optical network. The system streams data and video (up/down equally) using the portable WiMAX infrastructure. Additional sectors can be added to the WiMAX band to increase bandwidth.

An internet connection can be achieved through a satellite link and/or fibre access. Data and video users connect wirelessly with the WiMAX infrastructure, if they are within the coverage area and have the relevant E1 hardware. Some countries have already secured a WiMAX band (frequency) for emergency services only. We suggest streaming the system’s information through similar exclusive frequencies. The management comms application (software) operates and inspects the rapid deployment of the system. It also offers security and robustness. Some features also ensure the user’s authorisation and traffic control.

The mechanical design depends on customer requirements. The MoD, say, might need a system quite unsuited to Home Office requirements, so the comms architecture allows great flexibility. Here, an example of a basic design which might suit the Home Office: Vehicle: A standard stretch cargo van, although the system can be adapted for a four-wheel drive sports utility vehicle. For longer-term applications, or where vehicle security may be an issue, the solution can be built into standard International Standards Organization (ISO) containers.

There are three main finance revenue streams:

• In a crisis, communications support is priceless. In some cases, the ‘domino effect’ of a crisis can cause greater damage than the emergency itself. So the ability to update intelligence, co-ordinate rescue work and ensure rapid recovery is vital. The system proposed here has a positive ROI, when comparing its capital investment with the benefits it provides for crisis management, preventing or scaling down the domino effect. The finance model can be seen as insurance against a variety of emergencies.

• Creating temporary capacity could attract GSM band providers. This can generate seasonal revenue from large gatherings, and might lead to a long term contract.

• Renting or leasing mobile GSM/E1 networks to large isations such as a construction company working in the railway industry. The system can handle a highly mobile operation in which the workforce needs GSM coverage and the machinery needs a high speed data link. There are costs involved in the operational, especially the satellite band. The E1 is relatively easy to transmit by satellite and is compatible with a wide variety of compression equipment including multiplexers. But E1 interfaces often have unused time-slots, particularly when the link is not used to full capacity. Significant gains can be made simply by not transmitting by satellite during these time-slots . This process is often referred to as drop-and-insert. Empty timeslots are dropped at the transmitting side and are inserted at the receiving side.


Global System for Mobile Telecommunications (GSM)

Base Transceiver Station (BTS)

Base Station Controller (BSC)

Mobile Switching Centre (MSC)

Ministry of Defence (MoD)

International Standards Organization (ISO)
Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)

Return On Investment (ROI)

Radio frequency (RF)