Guy Paone, Director of Engineering and Head of Security at the Fallsview Group, had already experienced, first-hand, the tangible benefits of modernizing a mobile communication system for the safety and efficient operations of a hotel, having previously spearheaded a systems and hardware update at Four Points. So, when he saw the opportunity to conceptualize a system to improve safety and operating efficiency spanning multiple hotels, restaurants, shuttle services and commissary facilities, Guy had a very good sense of where to start.
Challenges with Legacy Mobile Communications System
The major impetus for upgrading systems at each property was the same: the legacy systems in place at each property severely crippled the ability for all users within the network to effectively communicate with each other when required. In other words, communication was limited to a one-channel, one-talk-group architecture.
That meant departments like Maintenance shared a line with Housekeeping, Food Services, etc., resulting in too much inefficiency within each group and a hit to the hotel’s bottom line. Even more pressing was that the Security group also had to share the line with these other departments, meaning if another group was occupying the channel, Security could not access it, which presented glaring safety and security risks.
Adding to the communication limitations, user groups complained of poor quality connections and too many ‘dead zones’ throughout the property. Despite several attempts to address these quality issues, the problems persisted.
Finally, with the pending changes to Phase 2 of Industry Canada’s General Requirements for Compliance of Radio Apparatus (RSS-GeN) with the current radio communications system in place, the hotel owners would soon find themselves non-compliant and facing potential AMPs (Administrative Monetary Penalties) and/or other repercussions.
Canquest Communications of Niagara, Ont. , retained to Overhaul Fallsview Groups’ Wireless Communications
Enter Canquest, with an outstanding track record for large-scale wireless radio system implementations, Canquest was brought on-board to spearhead the project. Given both Mr. Paone’s and Canquest's previous experience and familiarity with Hytera products, a Hytera DMR solution would be put in place to replace the legacy system.
Essentially, the project would be split into two phases. Phase I would be an implementation and roll-out at their largest property, the Embassy Suites, to serve as a proof-of-concept. Phase II would see the remaining properties, restaurants, transportation and ancillary services rolled out.
Tom Letourneau, Head of Technical Services for Canquest, and Project Lead for the Fallsview Group implementation, developed the fleet map specifying the alignment of frequencies, user groups, IDs and communications slots, eliminating the chances for any duplication. The built-in flexibility of the Hytera units also enabled a key feature to be utilized that addressed one of the main security concerns of the legacy system.
User groups (departments) were assigned code plugs (profiles) enabling them to communicate under their own dedicated ‘home group’ while ‘visiting’ another talk group at the same time, whenever the need arose (eg. All-Call for emergencies). With this architecture in place, Fallsview Group was also adequately addressing their Phase II Non-Compliance issue with Industry Canada.
Ten (10) Hytera RD982S Repeaters were installed providing a total network coverage covering Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
For the handheld units to be used by staff, the team was provided with Hytera’s PD562 U1 line, selected primarily for its feature-rich functionality, durability and ruggedness for various applications, audio quality, size and weight, and user-friendliness. Overall the PD562’s covered the diverse needs of all the various groups best. For front desk & switchboard operations, Canquest commissioned a Hytera MD782 unit.
By selecting the right hardware and following the fleet map and implementation plan to the letter, the upgraded Hytera system has been functioning flawlessly. The turnaround time to complete the project was noticeably shorter than planned. All previous dead-zones have been eliminated entirely. There have been no reports of downtime or communication quality, reliability or coverage from end users. Overall managers have reported an improvement in productivity and efficiency across all departments.
“The Fallsview Group has benefited greatly from the company-wide implantation. Guest satisfaction is the utmost importance in our industry and communication is the key to achieving this, we the Fallsview Group acknowledge that Canquest and Hytera have turned our goals into reality. I look forward to any new innovations that Hytera can offer in enhancing communications within the Tourism and Hospitality industry.”
Guy Paone | Director of Engineering
The team is currently in the process of rolling out Phase II of the project to the remaining properties and will be completed by Labor Day.