New two-way radio network revolution is here - KorKor

By: Dave Lorimar, Photography by: Dave Lorimar


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The digital age is well and truly here and the modern two-way radio network has evolved to take advantage of this future-proof technology.

New two-way radio network revolution is here - KorKor
New two-way radio network revolution is here - KorKor

Large and heavy is how many people remember the walkie-talkies of old. They got better over time, but maybe the two-way radio's days are numbered and we should be embracing the smart phone devices we see around us. A lot of people might think that, but those people should think again.

Data transmission, text messaging and GPS have all been utilised to make today's two-way radio network more than a simple 'Roger, over and out' system. Gone is the static hiss. Crystal clear transmissions are the norm and the 'Shhhkk' sound that was sometimes heard after a transmission is gone for good - but you can always make the sound yourself!

Kordia is a state owned enterprise that has been around for over 60 years. When you listen to the radio or watch TV, there's a good chance that the signal travelled through the Kordia network. Three years ago, Kordia started installing a digital two-way radio network which they named KorKor. This is the first entirely digital network set-up in New Zealand and complies with the TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) mobile radio standard.

This popular global standard was developed to suit the needs of military and governments, through to transportation and public safety organisations. This advanced digital service enables information to be disseminated using a network of transmission towers, in much the same way that a cell phone network works. However, the KorKor network is completely separate and therefore not subject to the overloads and failures that can plague the mobile phone networks. Currently there is coverage in Wellington, Christchurch, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and the greater Auckland area. Coverage is an ever-expanding endeavour with new areas added initially where there is strong demand.

Today's radios are a lot more than just a simple walkie-talkie, but that basic function is still there. It's actually one of the features that make the two-way radio so powerful. The ability to instantly communicate with any and all of your team gives managers greater control and enhances business productivity. All users are setup into different groups. Depending on whom you want to talk to, it's possible to select a single user, a group of users or the entire team on your network. When communicating with individuals and/or group, only those invited can hear what is being said. As two-way radios are specifically designed for work communications, users tend to not waste airtime with excessive social conversation.

Having an open network where everyone can hear what the others are saying fosters excellent teamwork and camaraderie. In situations like courier company operations, drivers can advise others of traffic delays or ask for aid when locating a new address. Another driver may have been there before and be able to offer assistance. Motorola makes the hand held and vehicle mounted units. They are well made and built to take the knocks that come with using communicating devices. Unlike normal cell phones, you can expect these to last years into the future. They have GPS built-in, which can allow the device to be tracked from a web-based map application. Using this application you can monitor where all your units are at any time. You can even see what speed they are travelling at. All tracking data is recorded which is great if you need to go back and check where units were at a given time. This improves efficiency and encourages employees to keep role-focused.

The GPS feature is a great help if a user activates the emergency mode. As well as an alarm being set off in all the radios in the fleet, its microphone becomes hot or open, enabling everyone to hear what is happening. The radio will also flash on the map application, enabling the despatch operator to know exactly where the emergency is happening. Assistance can then be immediately sent directly to that location. This feature will work even if the radio is turned off.

Text messages can be sent via the web-based map application to the radios and the radios can send text messages amongst themselves. These can either be single or group messages. This saves drivers having to stop and write information down and removes the chances of errors in the information they write. It's not possible to text normal cell phones but you can link onto the normal telephone network to call landline or cell phone numbers in New Zealand. The units also have their own telephone number so it can be called from a normal telephone or cell phone. The 020 prefix is reserved for devices such as these.

One interesting fact is that two-way radios are exempt from the use of mobile phones in vehicles restriction. You can happily chat away while driving and it's perfectly legal. This saves the expense and hassle of having to install hands free kits in all fleet vehicles.

And for those bosses that are always on the move themselves, there's an iPhone app that enables them to log into their KorKor system from anywhere in the world and keep in touch with what's happening with the fleet.

For more information and to find local dealers, visit korkor.co.nz.

Positives

  • Crystal clear communications
  • Push-to-talk, cellular, GPS and emergency functions integrated into one device
  • Separate from the cell phone network
  • Future proofed
  • Cost effective over longer period

MINUS

  • Can have shorter range than analogue
  • Initial set-up costs can be higher than analogue
  • No full national coverage at this stage

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