The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) is opting for a $9 million private Mobitex mobile data network it believes will avoid some of the problems of public trunk radio.
The service awarded the contract to a consortium led by mobile data specialist Technisyst Computing, which includes equipment supplier Ericsson and Mobitex wireless data network operator United Wireless.
It calls for 350 ambulances in Southeast Queensland to be fitted with mobile data terminals and global positioning devices.
Trunk radio is the traditional communications medium of ambulance services in NSW and Victoria. It gives priority to voice traffic that can squeeze out data layer communications in times of heavy use.
It also imposes longer latency delays on data traffic, according to Technisyst managing director Brian Webb.
The packet-switched network will be implemented on 30 vehicles in the Brisbane metro area by next April and the total fleet will be operational by 2001.
QAS project co-ordinator Bill Delaney said the ambulance service was attracted by the access and performance guarantees offered by the private Mobitex network.
The new system will automatically track each ambulance as an individual icon on central command screens, dramatically improving despatch abilities, Webb said.
It will interface with the QAS's existing Printrak computer-aided despatch system.
Mobitex's 8Kbit/sec rate is ample for the text-based applications the QAS plans to mount on the new system, according to Delaney.
Initially they will focus on text-based verification of case details and immediate updates on incident status and probably occupy only 10 per cent of available bandwidth.
But in the longer term, the QAS plans to develop applications that link into health department computers and allow ambulance staff to access medical records of patients.
The new private wireless network will also be available for emergency services traffic generated by other agencies such as police.