London Underground police radio system goes live

A digital radio system known as Airwave has gone live on London Underground's tube network.

According to reports, the final two stations, Bank and Leicester Square, have been connected, completing the communication chain across the whole network. The system enables police at different stations, and those above and below ground, to communicate with one another.

The system is intended to combat the issues faced by the emergency services during the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, when an inability to communicate was said to seriously hamper the rescue efforts.

A formal announcement is due to be made at an official launch at the end of the month, with Mayor Boris Johnson, Home Office ministers and senior police said to be in attendance.

"It's a joined up approach to tackling crime," a spokesman for the, National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) told IT PRO. "It means that police on the Underground will be able to communicate with their colleagues above ground. The idea is to protect the public as the police will be able to respond quicker."

The Airwave system has been used for some years by other police forces in the county but the source denied that the tube system had been delayed. "We're actually ahead of schedule with the project, it's not been problematic," he said.

The Airwave system infrastructure was formerly run by O2, which originally won the 115 million contract to supply the underground service last year. The Airwave network is now operated by Guardian Digital Communications.

The signals are carried on the Tetra network and the police rent airtime from the operator. The technology was first commissioned nine years ago to provide the police with a clear method of digital voice communication and a way to transfer encrypted data.

Benny Har-Even

Benny Har-Even is a twenty-year stalwart of technology journalism who is passionate about all areas of the industry, but telecoms and mobile and home entertainment are among his chief interests. He has written for many of the leading tech publications in the UK, such as PC Pro and Wired, and previously held the position of technology editor at ITPro before regularly contributing as a freelancer.

Known affectionately as a ‘geek’ to his friends, his passion has seen him land opportunities to speak about technology on BBC television broadcasts, as well as a number of speaking engagements at industry events.