SCADA system upgrade takes place in Medway tunnel

The Medway tunnel in England has undergone a full upgrade of its SCADA system along with radio re-broadcasting, surveillance and incident detection systems.

Medway tunnel entranceOpened originally in 1996, the Medway tunnel in southern England is the second immersed tube tunnel to be built in mainland Britain and has served 13 years of providing high volume traffic flow under the Medway river in the county of Kent.

Medway Council decided to undertake considerable improvement work on the tunnel IT and communications systems to improve both tunnel operations and safety. At the top of the list of improvements was to upgrade the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system to a dual-layered system which includes a Graphical User Interface for tunnel operations and a PLC (Programmable Logic Control) element for the control of systems within the tunnel.

The system has enabled the integration and control of all the major safety and security subsystems which operate within the tunnel including video security surveillance cameras, fire and intruder alarms, access control to restricted facilities, the re-broadcasting of radio signals and the incident detection system to provide early warning of problems which might emerge within the tunnel.

Redundancy was an important element of the design of the tunnel systems to ensure that no single failure of any component could result in a closure of services. The SCADA system itself is duplicated with a back-up network and two geographically separate video walls are used for monitoring the 24 Bosch analogue surveillance cameras which are used for tunnel security. Sicura Systems installed the cameras and developed the management software for their control.

Incident detection cameras are also used throughout the tunnel to raise the alarm and provide a video feed of situations that might occur in the tunnel such as vehicle accidents, fires or obstacles in the roadway. Thirty-two such cameras were installed to achieve this function.

The radio re-broadcast technology works on two levels. First, it enables maintenance staff of the Medway Tunnel to communicate by radio with the help of an above ground antenna and radiating cables in the tunnel. Radiating cables are often used in tunnels to provide clear signals. They operate by leaking radio waves through the outer casing as a result of slots cut into the outer shielding conductor that are cut at intervals that match the broadcast frequency. The tunnel operators can also broadcast FM radio signals to car drivers to make safety announcements.

The project was overseen by project management and security systems specialists at Vital Technology.

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