Waternet: alarm and communication via push-to-talk with priority
Waternet’s field staff face real dangers. Thanks to PrioCom’s mission-critical push-to-talk service in combination with LoneWorker Protect, the field staff and the control room can quickly and effectively alert and communicate in case of an emergency. It is essential that the control room always knows the current location of the field operative in question.
Waternet is the only water company in the Netherlands that is responsible for drinking water supply, sewerage and water management. Field staff, who for example manage, maintain and install pipes and disconnect defaulters, can find themselves in many dangerous situations. Think of fainting in a sewer, being trapped by aggressive defaulters and being attacked by poachers in the dunes. Fast and effective alerting and communication in emergencies is therefore essential.
Our business partner Flash Private Mobile Networks has implemented a number of PrioCom technologies at Waternet. The basis is our guaranteed push-to-talk service. For this we have reserved certain capacity on T-Mobile’s 4G-network that is inaccessible for non-critical users. As a result, field staff and the control room are able to send mission-critical alerts and communicate, even in areas with poor coverage such as dunes and forests.
The push-to-talk application makes it possible to communicate one-to-one and one-to-more, for example, to share locations automatically and to exchange messages and photos. The app is installed on ultra rugged Android phones with a physical emergency button. Some of the Waternet devices can even be used in explosive-sensitive environments: explosions are a real danger due to XTC waste in sewers, among other things.
The smart devices are equipped with LoneWorker Protect. Thanks to this application from PrioCom, alarms can be raised automatically or manually via the emergency button, man down, fall detection and inactivity. Alarms are received by a dispatcher provided by Flash in Waternet’s control room. The dispatcher can see on his screen where the user is located, enabling quick and effective intervention.
The push-to-talk application, LoneWorker Protect and the location determination come from PrioCom. Flash supplied the devices, peripherals and infrastructure, did the setup, and manages and maintains the equipment.
The PrioCom and Flash solution has already proved its worth on several occasions, says Wesley Lelieveld, senior control room at Waternet. “Thanks to the walkie-talkies, we can see where our guys are in the incident room, which is especially valuable in the evening and at night. After an alarm has been raised, we can immediately call in the emergency services or a colleague who is nearby. The alarm has already been raised in several incidents via the new system. For example, someone became unwell while descending a sewer and someone fell down a flight of stairs.
On one occasion, the alarm was not raised. Lelieveld: “A colleague went to shut off the water for non-payers, and once inside, the door was immediately locked behind him. Once inside, the door was immediately locked behind him. This was a very wise lesson for all of us: always carry a walkie-talkie.”
PrioCom supports Flash as much as possible in all the activities they undertake around the PrioCom services and, if desired, also occasionally at the end customer’s premises.
“This time that was the case, as it concerned the rollout of a new platform. That is why I often visit Waternet together with Flash”, says Nico Hortensius, business development manager at PrioCom.
Lelieveld states that there is ‘not a single downside’ to the solutions and the service of and contact with Flash and PrioCom. “Everything about the cooperation goes well. If there is a problem or malfunction, someone comes to check it out immediately. Even at night and on the weekend.”
Thanks to the close contact with Waternet, PrioCom and Flash can constantly think about valuable new applications. One of the plans that came out of this is to equip boats and chlorine containers with PrioCom technology. This would make them easy to track, and the alarm could always be raised immediately. Lelieveld: “We are also looking into the possibility of further professionalising the control room, integrating PrioCom and Flash services into the digital system. In addition, we would like to be able to use push-to-talk to make immediate contact with the security company we work with.
Regardless of what is still to be implemented, senior account manager at Flash Private Mobile Networks Marco Morelis says that Waternet has in any case realised a future-proof solution. “Waternet has created a great deal of flexibility in the field of mission-critical solutions, partly because there are a lot of possibilities for using other applications on the devices. So they have not only purchased a ready-to-use solution, but also paved the way towards the future.”