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Safety for Underground Personnel

Safety for Underground Personnel: Using Tunnel GPS in an Emergency

Location and navigation are vital elements to ensure safety standards are maintained in an underground workplace. Or as safe as can be in fast changing circumstances, especially for emergency services personnel responding to an incident underground. The location of vehicles and equipment that could act as hazards in an emergency are also a consideration.

Tunnel GPS and GNSS systems can provide location systems integrated into existing working systems and practices. They can also be based on existing communications infrastructure supporting private (commercial or police) and public network radio systems.

Mining and Metro Staff

Working underground is hazardous in any event. So, maintaining location data on all staff is a vital cog in ensuring the safety of underground personnel. Not only is their location important but routes to safe havens within the tunnel network could be vital. In these circumstances, these safe havens and routes may change and so the granularity available from Tunnel GPS (usually within two or three metres) could make a big difference.

In some mining situations, the atmosphere may contain volatile gasses. These gasses could be ignited by high power radio signals or radio systems. Given the inherent low power level of GPS and GNSS signals, these may be the safest solution. Minimising environmental risks while easily integrating into existing systems and hardware with standard GPS receivers.

Emergency Services

Any incident in an underground railway needing Emergency Services staff will be hazardous, perhaps with little or no visibility. The imperative of locating and navigating the incident can be life changing for people caught up in the incident, as well as vital for the health and safety of the responding Emergency Services personnel.

Having a Tunnel GNSS system in place will enable location of any train or other vehicle involved in the incident. It will allow Emergency Services to use their existing communications (handheld radios) and other hardware (cameras) with existing infrastructure and systems. Enabling them to get on with the task at hand without using specialist location and communications equipment that would divert them from their vital work.


In a volatile and fast-moving emergency situation, the use of familiar equipment and systems will allow personnel to concentrate on the immediate task in hand, whether that be for their own or other’s safety.

Tunnel GPS systems are not a ‘fly in’ system designed just for emergencies but as another element of the infrastructure system, whether in a mine or metro network.
With location and navigation simply part and parcel of the communications and safety systems could mean better outcomes should an emergency arise.


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