Main Roads WA 2023 Solar Eclipse
Project: 2023 Solar Eclipse
Industry: Events, Transport
Location: Exmouth Region, Western Australia
Main Roads Western Australia is the Government department responsible for the operation of the road network for the State.
Main Roads faced the task of coordinating event traffic in the Exmouth region for a rare Solar Eclipse on 20 April 2023. With an expected influx of over 30,000 people to the region, Main Roads needed a reliable temporary critical voice communications system to coordinate traffic management and manage emergency situations during this historic event.
The system had to cover a vast area (the Exmouth Peninsula), be temporary in nature and easy to deploy within a strict timeframe. It also needed to function independently of mobile phone coverage, serving as an emergency communication and incident control system.
Additional factors to consider included minimising physical size, managing power requirements, monitoring long lead time items and weather conditions.
The CSE Crosscom team conducted a desktop radio frequency (RF) engineering study to determine the optimal number of sites and repeater locations required for seamless radio coverage. To minimise repeater sites, the study aimed to avoid direct line-of-sight between them.
We proposed the use of a Motorola DMR IPSC system operating in the VHF band, utilising a five-site configuration. The system employed rental handheld devices, allowing two timeslots from a single channel, optimising communication capacity.
While 3G/4G/LTE connectivity was initially considered for site-to-site backhaul, the need for long-distance functionality in the absence of mobile coverage led the team to deploy business-grade Starlink connections at each repeater site. This innovative approach enabled connectivity between sites separated by more than 60km in some instances. All sites were routed through a cloud-based VPN, ensuring seamless audio streaming between sites.
The solution was implemented by a single technician, with client support, within a two-day timeframe (excluding any customer transport-related delays) using five elevated work platforms, a smaller number than originally anticipated. We were also able to rapidly adapt to challenges during installation, including sourcing product substitutions to meet the deadline.
The efficient deployment, broad coverage and reliable performance of the solution ensured effective incident control and enhanced the overall safety and management of the event.