Citiwater, a business unit of the Townsville City Council, is a registered service provider of water and wastewater services to the Townsville community in far North Queensland. It is their responsibility to provide reliable and sustainable water services for the more than 160,000 people in the Townsville community.
Citiwater needed a mobile data despatch system that would provide a seamless conduit between its existing line of business systems and its field staff in order to deliver an improved level of service for their ratepayers. It was important for the Council to make use of its existing Tait T800 network infrastructure for voice communication as well as the new data system.
To achieve this, Tait partnered with Mobile Technologies, a Brisbane-based software company that produces MTrack data despatch software, Nexion Data Systems and a local dealer, Ricom Communications, to provide the total solution.
A cost-effective solution was delivered using TM8250 mobiles integrated with Nexion modems and a Bluetooth connection to PDA pocket computers.
In order to meet the real time data transfer requirements, all the TM8250 radios were fitted with Nexion 4100 fast data modems. This gave them the capability to switch automatically between the voice and data channels when a data request was received. The communications middleware that controls and reports on the status of the network is part of Mobile Technologies’ MTrack software system.
The MTrack software takes jobs from the existing work order system and displays these on the control screen ready for allocation to the appropriate field crew. This Mission Control facility displays the current status of all active tasks, supporting the new levels of customer service required by the Council.
The introduction of handheld computers in the field has eliminated paper based systems and provided the opportunity to upgrade the level of information received from the field. Citiwater Manager Henry Fracchia says, “We are now in a better position to make informed decisions on the deployment and maintenance of our assets”.
To allow the crews to remain connected while working away from the vehicle, a Bluetooth serial connection between the data terminal and radio has been included in the configuration. This allows field staff to use powerful PDA pocket data terminals that can maintain real time communications while working up to 100 metres from their vehicle.
The solution has given Townsville’s Citiwater the ability to improve communications with field crews, extend the life of their existing system and offer ratepayers an improved level of service.
Many astute network operators – including those who do not identify lack of frequency as a challenge – choose trunked technologies because they understand the compelling network and workforce management benefits.