Transport for New South Wales (NSW) in Australia is set to trial technology for boosting global positioning system (GPS) signals to improve safety and reliability in Sydney’s road tunnel network.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has agreed to amend some of the key federal laws and is said to have provided funding for the trial.

Transport for NSW acting deputy secretary Howard Collins said: “We know how frustrating it can be for motorists when your GPS signal drops out mid-journey. This is even more of a problem for emergency services and freight operators that depend on GPS to quickly find and communicate within their teams.

“We have been working with tunnel experts to develop solutions that will assist drivers to navigate the existing and future road tunnel network faster and more accurately. The roadblock had been a federal law that banned GPS ‘repeaters’, because of concerns they could interfere with external GPS signals when not operated properly.

“Transport for NSW joined with other key agencies to make a submission to get the law changed. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has agreed to amend the law, and we’ve now confirmed funding to start rolling out trials in coming months.”

The trial will see an investigation of certain points inside tunnels where GPS signals can be ‘repeated’, and will test communication from in-tunnel GPS signal simulators and navigation devices.

If the trials are successful, they could lead to a licensing arrangement for devices that can be rolled out across Sydney’s road tunnel network.

Going forward, the technology could be used across major projects such as the Western Harbour Tunnel, Beaches Link and M6 Stage 1, as well as existing road tunnels across the city.

For this initiative, Transport for NSW, NSW Telco Authority, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Ambulance, and NSW Police have worked with the ACMA.

Fire and Rescue NSW deputy commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell said: “Fire and Rescue NSW crews will be at the forefront of testing this new technology, undertaking various scenarios to ensure our specialist communications team can pinpoint the exact location of a Triple Zero (000) caller if they are in a tunnel, and increase our visibility of our trucks and crews to ensure the correct resourcing is assigned to an emergency incident.

“The increased response capability will help us better protect the NSW community.”