Telecommunication tower with antennas

Working ‘smarter’ with TETRA technology

While supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and telemetry systems have been used in industry for many years, the recent focus on smart grids and smart energy management creates an exciting new opportunity for critical network providers.

This opportunity is one of the drivers behind the TETRA and Critical Communications Association (TCCA) establishing its SCADA, Smart Grid and Telemetry (SST) Working Group at the beginning of 2013.

SCADA and telemetry protocols are already optimised for narrowband data transmission and so are excellent contenders for using data bearers based on control and traffic channels, such as TETRA. This can increase the utilisation of an existing TETRA communications system, making the investment in the technology all the more beneficial.

Smart energy systems mean utility companies have to integrate information and communications technologies with the utility infrastructure. The aim is to deliver real-time information about consumer usage and generators in order to balance the grid’s behaviour. This will help to ensure secure and sustainable electricity supplies, as well as making a real impact on reducing energy consumption – and therefore reducing costs and the impact on the climate. TETRA is an efficient choice for utility companies looking to introduce smart applications and its unrivalled network security will give consumers total confidence that their data is kept confidential.

Objectives

The SST Working Group is looking at ways for TETRA to exploit these new opportunities, and to enable utility companies and industry to participate in, and influence, the development of suitable solutions, both for traditional SCADA and telemetry applications and for the new application areas such as smart grids. The group’s main objective is to create a forum for users, manufacturers, system integrators and developers to share experiences and requirements, and catalyse the market for TETRA in the SCADA, telemetry and smart grid space. The group will drive relevant activities within the technology standards organisations to ensure that the evolution of critical communications standards encompasses the future needs of this market.

The group has regular conference calls and has been collecting white papers and data which are now available within the members’ area of the TCCA website. It has active membership from TETRA suppliers, TETRA data modem vendors, system integrators and, most recently, an organisation involved in utility spectrum.

The group has a presence at a number of major events, and there will be a presentation from members of the group at Critical Communications World Middle East in September. This follows a successful seminar on SCADA, Smart Grids and Telemetry at the Critical Communications Worldconference in Paris in May this year. This introduced delegates to TETRA and TEDS as suitable bearers for SST applications, which can be polled (Figure 1) or report by exception (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Master/slave type applications where a polled mode is used [Source: Analysys Mason Ltd] 

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Figure 2: Master/slave type applications where a report by exception mode is used [Source: Analysys Mason Ltd]mason222

TEDS

There was also discussion on smart applications using TEDS, the business case for TETRA as SST bearer, and the different protocols for transmission of telemetry data.  Delegates also saw practical demonstrations on telemetry data transmission over TETRA.

Work is ongoing to collate data on the TETRA smart grid/SCADA schemes that are working today or planned in the near future. This will help to demonstrate how effective TETRA is in this environment.

As with all special interest groups, the more members that participate in activities and support the objectives, the more effective the group will become.

If you are interested in taking part or submitting information, you can find more details on the TCCA website

Article published in TETRA Today – September 2013

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Contact:       Bridie Douglas, Marketing Manager

Email:           contact@masonadvisory.com

Telephone:   +44 (0) 333 301 0093

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