An expedition to the highest point of the Andes Cordillera has kept in touch with base camp and home thanks to a communication solution developed by TDCOM, the wholly-owned Vizada Networks specialist events, tracking and integrated solutions division.
An expedition to the highest point of the Andes Cordillera has kept in touch with base camp and home thanks to a communication solution developed by TDCOM, the wholly-owned Vizada Networks specialist events, tracking and integrated solutions division. The three week expedition was called ‘Expedition 3eme Pole’ and came to an end on February 18th 2011. The team trekked to one of the world’s highest summits at Aconcagua, in order to test new scientific body sensors and to promote a full scale return expedition in 2012.
TDCOM’s role was to provide the communication systems and to help the expedition with any transmission issues. The system had to be able to deliver reliable service as the three men and two women team needed to report back to the French media on a regular basis, in addition to transmitting scientific data.
“Because the expedition had many radio, TV and web media partners, they had to be able to provide photos and videos on a regular basis,” explains Anthony Mazeau, a project manager from TDCOM. “More than that, the expedition had a scientific dimension so they needed to communicate with the base camp and headquarters in France to transmit data from special body sensors that the team was wearing.”
The expedition team ran a full range of experiments on the human body’s response to altitude. They made a partnership with a French company to develop body sensors able to record and store the data, which included measurements on lung function (spirometry), heart frequency in effort and rest time, arterial blood pressure and muscle volume loss due to altitude. A specially developed hood sensor also provided data on issues such as high altitude sickness.
Regardless of the data type, for scientists or for the media, to achieve reliable transmission, TDCOM based its solution on Inmarsat BGAN, and supplied the expedition team with a Thrane & Thrane EXPLORER 700. TDCOM also developed a solar power supply for the system. The choice of the BGAN service ensured that lightweight, compact equipment could be used with relatively inexpensive airtime, which was an important part of the original brief.
“The system had to be resistant to some very rough conditions including snow, dust and varying temperatures. It also had to be easy and quick to deploy, especially as there were no telecommunication or informatics expert on the team and it also had to demonstrate cost efficiency,” continues Anthony. “The system we put together answered all of these requirements and worked well in the field, with the team able to fulfill its commitment to the media and the scientific part of the expedition, through having a reliable communications system with them at all times.”