London Underground seeks advice about ICT infrastructure
Will hold talks with tech suppliers on future tube system
London Underground (LU) has invited technology suppliers to discussions aimed at helping it understand how to develop a communications infrastructure for its next generation of tube railway systems.
The organisation says it wants to talk about trends and innovation, particularly in communications and networking technology, such as switching and routing, network processors and wireless technologies. The technology will be used in an environment that requires high levels of security across a range of sites and by mobile users.
In a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union, LU says that the new railway system is not expected to be fully operational before 2018 at the earliest. The rapid pace of change in technology means it needs an insight into current developments so that the solutions designed are not obsolete before the new railway is introduced.
LU says that its new tube system will rely far more heavily on secure, resilient and fully integrated systems than it does now. Its biggest challenges are that all the components of the new systems are reliable, with no unplanned downtime. They should be protected against malicious attacks as well as being capable of supporting safety-critical functions.
They will also need to manage large volumes of real time as well as historical information from distributed video, voice and data sources, and work equally well above and more than 5.5 metre underground.
The solutions could also be used by other parts of the Transport for London Group.
Once LU has completed a strategic review and developed its associated specification for the future, it will invite tenders for the supply of a communications infrastructure. The procurement process is set to begin in June 2012.
This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.
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Start with not getting locked into restrictive contracts for the communications infrastructure so that your MAN doesn't run at <512kbps and cost more than an EFM per circuit!
Good place to start
Read the RISKS digest. Learn what pitfalls to avoid. Apropos pitfalls, don't do a government and ask the greasy salesmen to help themselves and lock open your wallet. Find, then hire, a systems architect. Have that person work out where to go and only then see how to fill in the blanks.
Your critical infrastructure vision shouldn't be tech-vendor driven.
Strike 2 and still out
The backbone of the London Underground communications infrastructure was a project called CONNECT. It was let in about 1996 to be finished in 2003 and is still incomplete. Ir was to cover both the extended radio network required by the 1987 Kind Cross Recommendation and the need for a digital backbone to carry all its communications services until 2020-ish. It was another PFI which was subject to the usual massive changes in specification, and delays brought about by the inability to allow the contractors access to the sites to undertake work.
Note that the TETRA infrastructure system in the Underground is still incomplete on two major line (Northern and Central I believe), and does not support the police, fire and emergency services ubiquitously as envisaged.
No National Audit Office report has been carried out, as to why nearly 10 years after its original completion date, it still is not. The person who signed the contract at London Underground is not a Peer of the realm.
Personally I wouldn't waste my time wit them anymore - if they want to buy kit, fair enough but the minute they get into design, we are back to a customised design which ignores the already working systems elsewhere in the word. Thats one way to keep TfL staff in a job !