Setting a new course: How Fugro and Telstra InfraCo built a nerve centre for resilient remote maritime operations

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Setting a new course: How Fugro and Telstra InfraCo built a nerve centre for resilient remote maritime operations
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Setting a new course: How Fugro and Telstra InfraCo built a nerve centre for resilient remote maritime operations

The vessel cuts through the azure waters of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia’s Pilbara region. The pilot checks the instruments, adjusts the controls, and the vessel takes a new bearing.

It could be the same maritime navigation experience sailors have had for hundreds of years. But in this case, the person piloting the vessel sits in an air-conditioned remote operations centre in one of Telstra’s central Perth fixed network sites. Opposite them, a wall of screens show a multitude of real-time views from the vessel.

‘We’re looking at the ocean from the bridge of an uncrewed vessel 2,000 kilometres away on the North West shelf,’ explains Stefan Haliczenko, Remote Operations Superintendent at Fugro Australia.

The video footage on screen is from one of Fugro’s Blue Essence 12 metre uncrewed surface vessels (USVs). Fugro is one of the world’s leading Geo-data specialists. It provides Geo-data and insights to clients in the water, infrastructure, and energy sectors, to help them improve planning, safety, and efficiency.

Fugro gathers data by surveying the client’s target area using a wide range of technologies. Among those technologies are USVs. These vessels are remotely operated from an onshore facility set up like the bridge of a ship.

‘Right now, we have 16 channels of video coming in from the vessel,’ Stefan says, pointing to the video wall, watched by a crew of operators. ‘We have three cameras onboard, we have the underwater vehicle, plus the other sensor payload that's on at the moment.’

Real time remote control for uncrewed surface vessels

Effectively operating vessels thousands of kilometres away means Fugro has stringent demands for its infrastructure.

‘Our risk tolerance is as close to zero as possible,’ Stefan explains. ‘The last thing we want to do is lose a vessel. We need facilities with redundant communications and power, and high levels of security.’

Stefan Haliczenko, Remote Operations Superintendent at Fugro Australia

‘The critical thing when we’re operating uncrewed assets is to run 24/7 without the risk of losing connectivity,’ Mark Wilson, Project Delivery Manager at Fugro Australia adds. ‘The facilities at the Telstra fixed network site in Perth enables us to give that assurance to our clients.’

Fugro Australia moved to the Telstra site in Perth after several years at the Gnangara Satellite Earth Station.

‘Previously, we worked out of Telstra’s Gnangara Satellite Earth Station.’ Mark says. ‘Gnangara was very well connected from a network perspective, but it’s not as convenient. The Telstra fixed network site in the centre of Perth offers a much more accessible location for our staff who operate the assets remotely.’

Stefan in the remote operations control room

Creating a custom space for remote operations

Telstra InfraCo’s 17-storey building in the heart of Perth, ticked all the boxes Fugro needed for its remote operations centre.

Built in 1979, it is designed to be resilient. It has dual connectivity and electricity feeds, and access to all major telecommunication carriers. Four high-capacity backup generators have helped to ensure the site has never suffered a full power outage.

On the roof is a satellite dish and a ski jump shaped water tower to maintain water on site for days, should it ever be needed. And as a bonus for Fugro staff, the building at the top end of Perth is now at the heart of the city’s developing high-tech district.

Telstra InfraCo worked with Fugro as an anchor tenant to design and build a bespoke space to meet Fugro’s specific requirements for a remote operations centre. The space is divided into separate control rooms. Each has a bridge-like arrangement to give the operators the feeling they are on the vessel. Fugro began using the site in August 2022.

Fugro can also manage its own fibre network from the site. The company uses low latency dark fibre provided by Telstra Infraco.

As an active exchange the building has high security and few windows. While the lack of windows limits the city skyline views, it suits Fugro. They need high security and large blank walls for projecting data and video feeds.

Specialised sites for specialist business needs

‘No one else has the same facilities and infrastructure as Telstra’ Stefan says. ‘Telstra InfraCo provided us with yesses at every stage. They have been a great partner in the sense that they were able to provide communications to go with the site.’

“No one else has the same facilities and infrastructure as Telstra.”

–Stefan Haliczenko, Remote Operations Superintendent, Fugro Australia

Fugro is now considering expanding their operations in the Perth site. Other tenants have also moved in, showing the benefits of resilient, connected network sites.

Telstra InfraCo has many such buildings across Australia. They’re ideally suited for tenants looking for remote operations or cyber security operations centre sites. These sites have low latency connectivity and power resilience in place. And they're highly secure, as you would expect from one of the country’s largest infrastructure providers.

If you’d like to find out more about the opportunity to base operations within one of our fixed network sites, contact your account manager or get in touch with us here.

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