The Port of Pittsburgh Commission is building a wireless broadband network along the rivers in Pittsburgh and is seeking partners to explore new applications for transportation, safety, security and environmental monitoring.
The Wireless Waterways project consists of both the network system infrastructure (NSI), which will be scalable and expandable, and an interoperability test bed (ITB). The project has been under construction for nearly a year by the port commission’s contractor, CONXX, from Johnstown, Pa.
“The PPC will begin to conduct experiments within the Test Bed in June,” said James R. McCarville, executive director of the port commission. “It is working with Carnegie Mellon University, Consol Energy’s River Division, The Gateway Clipper, Pittsburgh Voyager, Carnegie Science Center and various other companies and Water and Sewer Authorities to begin to explore how this new network could add to the transportation and economic development of the region.“
McCarville explained the port commission has been working with towing companies and the Army Corps of Engineers for more than a year to define improvements to transportation data gathering. The Test Bed will explore the integration of disparate sensors, communications and information management systems to develop innovative and cost effective ways to better use waterway transportation, water quality monitoring, safety and security.
“Nearly 70 percent of the inland river system is either in rural areas or, as in Pittsburgh, down in river valleys lacking good Internet access,” he said. “The PPC system will be designed for what is called the ‘industrial’ Internet and will be able to transmit large volumes of data from sensors, cameras and other devices.”
Rex Woodward, a port commission board member and chairman of its Wireless Waterway committee, sees the potential for this network to someday reach the entire waterways for the nation, but said it will take time. “There will be benefits for shippers, towers, port terminals and their intermodal partners as this develops. But there will be growing pains. For now, we are just in the testing phase,” he said.
Parties interested in proposing testing should contact the Port of Pittsburgh Commission by email
. - Chris Gillis