Comms Connect 2018

I attended Comms Connect together with the wider Telstra Public Safety team.

Telstra's shared its vision for how the Public Safety Mobile Broadband would best be orchestrated, and capabilities Telstra already posseses to enable this.

Telstra also presented the work we have done with our Cell on Wings, Search and Rescue (AI) work, Telstra Push to Talk and CAPE capabilities.

Search and Rescue

Fantastic customer discussion were had with a range of fire and emergency services organizations.

The key focus was on Search and Rescue applications, using object detection AI algorithms, and a range of sensing technologies.

In areas of high network coverage, CAPE presents a fantastic solution to assist rapid deployment.

In remote areas, edge computing enables Search and Rescue operations, by doing AI detection in real time. A very small packet of data can then be sent back, containing the location that the person was found, and an single image. This avoids sending heavy video streams in areas with low to no coverage.

My colleague Peter Jones showcased the Cell on Wings, the DJI M600 drone, and the Vapour 55 helicopter. The Search and Rescue work was kicked off by the work Peter has done building out a swarm of 9 UAVs, which would enable even faster Search and Rescue operations. In a future state, the Cell on Wings may even provide coverage to the UAV swarm as they operate.

Other platform opportunities included the use of VTOLs, fixed wings, or petrol driven UAVs for longer flight times and greater range.


CAPE provides a platform for flying drones over the mobile network, with ultra low latency.

I had the opportunity to fly a drone in Ensenada, Mexico, live, from the other side of the world!

On the second day of the conference, CAPE arranged for the thermal camera, and I had the opportunity to fly a night mission.

I was looking forward to recording footage of the Z30 zoom camera, which CAPE supports, providing a 30x optical zoom. This camera helps understand concerns about privacy regarding drones- a persons face is visible from over a kilometer away, through a window!

Unfortunately, at this time the M200 platform that supports this camera is grounded due to a bug causing a complete loss of power mid-flight during a police flight.

Cell on Wheels

This is Telstra's first generation of network recovery solutions, based in Queensland, which provides coverage after natural disasters.

The satellite dish backhaul is connected to a large LTE antenna, which then emulates and provides coverage on Telstra's network.

The Cell on Wings is the second iteration of this program.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade

The MFB also attended, with a booth led by their Chief Pilot. Telstra had spoken to the MFB previously, and shared opinions and expertise regarding the thermal cameras we had used previously.

The MFB were showcasing how they were using UAVs to obtain a rapid assessment of the situation, and stream video back in real time to their operations centre through a Teradek encoder.

Cobham showcased a range of satellite and MESH Wifi technologies, for streaming video up to 130km. The mesh network is able to dynamically route and adjust as new radios become available or drop off the network.

Other Radio Technologies

The remaining vendors focussed upon P25 radio technologies, mobile device management, and redundancy, with a specific focus to public safety.

Categories: Events