Hired to develop an emergency-services wireless network for the 2012 London Olympics, Airwave now aims to commercialize it when the Games are over
Emergency services comms company Airwave already has one eye on its Olympics legacy.
The company, named earlier this year as a supplier to the London 2012 Olympics, will provide private mobile radio service for all Games venues.
Airwave will equip the 2012 Olympic Games in London with two Tetra networks: one for the police and other emergency services to use, and a separate network for International Olympics Committee (IOC) staff who will be running the Games.
Tetra is a specialist mobile radio communications system designed for use by emergency services and public safety agencies.
The two Olympic Tetra networks will cover all the venues in the UK – including Eton Dorney in Buckinghamshire that will host rowing events, and Portland and Weymouth in Dorset where sailing events will take place.
The IOC's network will also cover the likes of West End hotels in London and perhaps stretch as far as Heathrow, according to Airwave CEO Richard Bobbett.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with silicon.com, the CEO said the two Olympics networks could potentially interoperate if users require it: "We can offer those customers the ability to talk to each other at the scene. We can actually create [the networks] in a way that they could press a button and say 'policeman, come and help me' and that could be quite useful," he said.
Bobbett said Airwave is currently in the process of talking to its emergency services customers about the Olympics network, over factors such as network resilience, capacity and the services they want to deploy on the network.
"We're locked into the planning processes with those customers," he said. "We know roughly what their requirements are now and we've got a few options on the table and over the next few months I expect some decisions to be made as to exactly what it is we're going to deploy for them in which locations."
Neither of the Olympics Tetra networks were part of the original Olympic bid but Bobbett said the emergency services insisted on having their own network for the Olympics – and, faced with the requirement to build one network, the IOC decided to take up Airwave's offer of a second network for its own staff.
"We said if we're going to do all that already [Tetra coverage to all Olympic venues] the incremental bit of us actually putting a second network in at the same time is actually much more effective," he said.
Airwave confirmed it is covering the multimillion-pound cost of the IOC Tetra network as part of its role as a tier-three Locog (The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) sponsor. Locog is the private sector company responsible for staging and hosting the 2012 Games, with a budget of £2bn – almost all of which must be raised from the private sector.
When the dust has settled for the last time on the Olympic Games running tracks, Bobbett said Airwave will be free to use this second network to offer "new services in the London area".
According to Bobbett, Airwave transport organisations could be potential users of such services.
"At the beginning of 2013 we're going to have this product that's going to be free to go to market with so that's...another reason why we wanted to be involved," he said.