Mobile Radio Data System (MRDS)
In 1972, Mr. W.L. (Lou) Hatton, Director of Communications System Research and Development proposed that CRC undertake a project based on the concept of government laboratories fostering selected areas of computer/communications technology in Canadian industry.The objectives of the project were:
- To develop a computer based data communication system for mobile units, using radio links.
- To foster the development and use of advanced communications systems of value to Canadian users, specifically, the use of mobile radio links for data transmission.
- To provide information of use in the management of radio spectrum and in development of standards.
- To develop technology which may be transferred to industry, to support the development of the Canadian communications industry.
The project was begun by making several studies to determine the capabilities of the Canadian electronics industry, the user needs and market situation, standards, and the extent and sophistication of technology in use. A market study conducted under contract by Woods, Gordon and Company identified mobile radio data terminals as one of the best areas to address. This choice was doubly appropriate because the department's mandate to manage the use of the spectrum requires an intimate knowledge of developing communications technologies and because CRC had existing expertise in radio communications.
In October 1974, a proposal was reached with the RCMP. In January 1977, a project was launched to develop a system for the Vancouver police department. In January 1979, the mobile radio data system was officially turned over to the Vancouver police force.
The Mobile Radio Data System (MRDS) is a computer based, data communication system for mobile units using radio links. The user (one of a fleet of mobile units) can report his position and status to and/or request information from a central control facility by using a specially designed computer terminal located in the mobile unit.
In October 1974, DOC approached the RCMP who agreed with a proposal to cooperate in a joint project to specify, design and develop a modular radio communications system which would satisfy the major requirements of the Canadian Police Forces. Once expertise was established in the development of the police communication system, the technology was to be transferred to industry for police and non-police users.
The design and development work for the demonstration system was done by Canadian industry. Early in 1975, industry was briefed on the program which included a requirement that the selected contractor commit to entering into the mobile radio data systems business. MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) won the Phase I contract to develop detailed systems specifications and trial plans. This contract indicated that a mobile radio data system supported by all the latest computer aids was beyond both the financial means and the practical requirements of most police forces. Consequently, a smaller system was selected for implementation and installation as a test case. The Vancouver Police Force indicated an interest. An agreement was reached between DOC, the RCMP and the City of Vancouver, wherein the city agreed to pay for all hardware components of an operational system with the federal agencies paying for the development work. In January 1977, the design for the system was competed and a mock-up terminal was prepared.
The Phase II work was divided into two contracts. Part A was intended to produce an operational system for the Vancouver Police Force. This system was to be available for immediate use, once completed and tested. Part B was intended to produce a completely Canadian built terminal and system, designed to meet police needs and those of the transportation sector. In the case of the police, this included the capability to access the RCMP data base from their vehicles and the capability for headquarters messages to the field force.
In 1978, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) in consultation with Ventures West Ltd., were instrumental in creating International Mobile Data Incorporated. MDA transferred the necessary technology and personnel to IMDI to produce and market the system. The more advanced system included a microprocessor-based controller, the mobile terminals and the base station controller. Based on the success of the trial system, the Vancouver Police Force bought a complete set of the Canadian-manufactured terminals for their fleet. The new system went into service in the Vancouver police department in January 1979. With the transfer of the technology to Canadian industry, the project was considered a success. Post-installation evaluation of the system was undertaken by Cantel Engineering Associates and Simon Fraser University.
Bhaneja, B., Lyrette, J., Davies, T.W., and Dohoo, R.M. "Technology Transfer By Department of Communications: A Study of Eight Innovations." MOSST Background Paper. Ottawa; Supply and Services, 1980.
Annual Report for the Department of Communications 1976-77 to 1981-82. Ottawa; Supply and Services.
Page created on August 13, 1997 by Cynthia Boyko
Last updated on February 5, 2001 by Stu McCormick
Copyright © Friends of CRC, 1997