Starting up the Sydney road tunnel GPS tech

A financial support and green light have been given by the Transport for NSW, to trial a novel technology to improve GPS signals in Sydney’s road tunnel network.

Due to the missing line of sight to satellites, GPS signals don’t work in road tunnels. There are some other technologies for vehicles, such as dead reckoning but GPS is the most accurate one.

The examination will survey points inside tunnels where GPS signals can be ‘repeaters’, then test communication between in-tunnel GPS signal simulators and receptor on navigation devices, such as in-vehicle GPS units and smartphones.

 Licensing an arrangement for devices that can be rolled out among Sydney’s road tunnel network, including mega projects being advanced such as the Western Harbour Tunnel, Beaches Link, M6 Stage 1 and available road tunnels across the city, depends on success of these trials.

Transport for NSW Acting Deputy Secretary Howard Collins said: “We know how frustrating it can be for motorists when your GPS signal drops out mid-journey. This is even more of a problem for emergency services and freight operators that depend on GPS to quickly find and communicate within their teams.”

He also asserted: “We have been working with tunnel experts to develop solutions that will assist drivers to navigate the existing and future road tunnel network faster and more accurately.”

Indeed, there was a federal rule forbidding GPS ‘repeater’ due to concerns of interference with external GPS signals.

“Transport for NSW joined with other key agencies to make a submission to get the law changed. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has agreed to amend the law, and we’ve now confirmed funding to start rolling out trials in coming months,” stated Mr. Collins.

Jeremy Fewtrell, Fire and Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner, complimented the news that this vital invention was now proceeding to a trial.

He continued: “Fire and Rescue NSW crews will be at the forefront of testing this new technology, undertaking various scenarios to ensure our specialist communications team can pinpoint the exact location of a Triple Zero (000) caller if they are in a tunnel, and increase our visibility of our trucks and crews to ensure the correct resourcing is assigned to an emergency incident. The increased response capability will help us better protect the NSW community.”

Transport for NSW, NSW Telco Authority, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Ambulance and NSW Police have worked with the ACMA on this regard.

The ultimate amount of funding for this innovative, which is supported by Transport for NSW Asset Technology Program, will be fixed once the procurement procedure is complete.

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