Protecting the UK waterways – River Thames, London

January 23, 2023

As river traffic increases so do the demands to manage important waterways like the Thames Estuary. The Navigation Systems team at the Port of London Authority (PLA) recently purchased HTZ Communications to ensure their comms networks were interference-free and fit for purpose.

Tasked with supporting the Authority’s VHF, DMR, UHF, radars and CCTV infrastructure, the team primarily uses the software to manage microwave links along the river, including point-to-point microwave budgets and modelling the impact of proposed high-rise buildings on LOS links. To ensure the team hit the ground running, they undertook a two-day custom training course covering all the technologies used by the Authority. The user training included:

  • Marine VHF incorporating coverage analysis and interference & prospective site analysis
  • DMR for coverage analysis and planning new sites
  • Radar coverage analysis, site overlapping and checking the effects of new buildings & wind turbines on the existing infrastructure
  • UHF point to multipoint for scanning telemetry equipment
  • CCTV site coverage analysis 
  • Support for license applications with UK Regulator, Ofcom.
Port of London radar on River Thames, London
Fig. 1 Port of London radar being lifted into place at Allhallows on the River Thames

David Barnard, Technical Support Engineer at the PLA, said “Managing multiple comms networks along the river needs a multi-technology network planning and modelling tool. With HTZ, we can manage all our existing radio networks with one piece of software. As technologies advance, we’re in a strong position to assess, plan and model emerging technologies to support the demanding communication needs of the Authority.”

David and his team currently use the software to identify the optimal sites for radio equipment and to analyse radar coverage along the river.

Port of London Control Centre
Fig 2 Port of London Control Centre on the River Thames, London

Port of London Authority

The PLA are the guardians of the River Thames in London. Covering over 95 miles of the river from Teddington to the North Sea, the Authority is responsible for ensuring the safe passage of commercial and leisure users, protecting trade and travel, and safeguarding and enhancing the environment. To support this activity, the Authority operates several radar sites providing detailed coverage of the river, AIS sites for collision avoidance, sensor networks for tidal information and weather updates and microwave and networking infrastructure.

For more information visit the PLA website.

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