• Hytera provides multi-technology public audio warning system for Sicilian Municipality

    Cities, Boroughs and Municipalities | Case Study

The Municipality of Priolo Gargallo in Sicily wanted to implement a hazard warning system for the local population in case of an accident at the large petrochemical plant in the area. But it wanted to avoid having to install a wired or microwave solution. Hytera and its partners came up with a multi-technology solution combining DMR radios, mobile, and fixed telephony interconnected via SIP gateways. This provides a highly flexible solution that allows the authorities to send warning messages to loudspeakers around the city via radio, mobile, fixed phone, and PC software.

The Background

The Municipality of Priolo Gargallo lies within the province of Siracusa (Syracuse), Sicily in southern Italy. It is situated about 190 km southeast of Palermo and about 13 km northwest of Syracuse. One of the largest petrochemical plants in Italy is located within the municipal area - called ISAB Nord and ISAB Sud refineries. Over the years, there have been several accidents at the plants involving explosions and fires.

Given the highly explosive and flammable nature of the liquids and gases being processed at the plants and their proximity to build-up areas, the local population is particularly vulnerable if there is a major accident. For this reason, the municipal civil protection authorities decided they needed to put in place a public address system (PA system) to alert the population should there be a need to evacuate the area in the event of an incident at the plant.

Petrochemical plant in the area of Siracusa, Sicily, Italy

The Challenge

The main challenge was the fact that the customer needed to implement a public address system at multiple locations all over the city. However, the customer did not want to use a wired system, which would involve installing dedicated cables at considerable expense, or to install a complex and expensive microwave network.

Instead, the customer wanted to be able to send warning messages to the population from a combination of mobile phones, landline phones, PC software, or two-way radio transceivers used by Civil Protection officers. It also wanted to ensure that if public networks such as mobile phones and landlines are used, there must be a security system that prevents messages from being sent by unauthorised personnel.

The solution, therefore, needed to be able to interconnect public mobile and fixed phone networks and private two-way radio networks to provide the authorities with a flexible way of sending messages. Regardless of their origin, the messages then had to be broadcast as an audible announcement ensuring clarity on the public address system.

The goal was to reach the entire population by exploiting the potential of digital two-way radio repeaters with an integrated SIP interface, and a SIP gateway capable of interconnecting with mobile and landline phones. This would avoid the need for any wired or microwave solution.

The idea was to send the alerts via the existing Civil Protection radio equipment, supplied by Hytera and deployed on infrastructure already installed and available around the city. The message, once received through the Hytera repeater, is transmitted and then integrated with the PA system, which then rebroadcasts it through the loudspeakers.

The Solution

The solution proposed to the customer comprised a Hytera HR1065 DMR Repeater, a COM control panel provided by Hytera distribution partner Advantec, an IP3001 VoIP gateway (developed by BPG Radiocomunicazioni), and Hytera PD685 DMR Handheld Radios.

Hytera HR1065 series DMR repeaters are fitted with a SIP interface, which allows the radio system to interface with VoIP telephone systems. The function is included in all repeaters without the need for additional licences. The repeater can process sending requests and manage the broadcasting of pre-recorded messages.

Hytera radios used by the customer have the ability to interface with telephone systems via the VoIP gateway. In this way, it was possible to integrate two-way radio, fixed telephony, mobile telephony, and PC software in a unique solution. The solution was able to meet all the demands of the end user in a particularly versatile and customizable way.

The Results

Following the implementation of the system, the customer is now able to inform the local population of any problems or activities at the petrochemical plant in multiple ways.

The alert can be triggered through the BPG COM management software. It is also possible to activate the alarm directly from Hytera DMR radios or through a phone call, using the automatic responder to select the message to be played.

Petrochemical plant in the province of Siracusa, Sicily, Italy

In this way, the technical solution has been able to satisfy all the customer’s requirements for a multi-technology solution, reducing time to implement as well as the infrastructure costs related to installing cables or microwave units.

The solution can be used in case of disasters, or civil protection alarms, and even in ordinary conditions to inform the population of activities taking place at the petrochemical plant, such as controlled venting or smoke emissions. For example, normally, the alert is made by staff of the municipal civil protection unit or public employees of the municipality, who have been properly trained in the correct procedures that need to be followed.

Additional benefits: The system could easily be extended to other municipalities in the province by implementing a Hytera Multi-site IP network, which has the potential to reach provincial or a regional-sized coverage area.

With this new solution, we have managed to combine many different technologies into one. We can now reach every citizen without having to wire the city and have the ability to customise the messages to be delivered by speaking directly on the phone or radio. Another big advantage is that we can monitor all PC activity while sitting comfortably in the operations room.

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