Pittsburgh's Rivers are Now Wireless

Pittsburgh Business Times
7 June 2013
Malia Spencer, Reporter

Consol Energy Inc. and the Port of Pittsburgh Commission unveiled a new Wireless Waterways system on Pittsburgh’s three rivers that is meant to help river commerce and is part of a project meant to serve as a testbed for a wider national system.

The Wireless Waterways system is a neutral wireless broadband network that will connect all the different wireless systems that are found along the rivers. The system of connected devices and applications will help with river commerce, security, navigation, tracking and operation of waterway sensors, according to a statement released by Consol (NYSE: CNX)

The first use of the new system will be onboard Consol’s M/V Safety Pledge, a part of the company’s river fleet, as well as vessels owned by Campbell Transportation and the Gateway Clipper.

“More than 200,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs in the Pittsburgh region depend upon a healthy and vibrant waterways system,” said James McCarville, executive director, the Port of Pittsburgh Commission, in a written statement. “We have a very real economic and human interest in improving the safety, security and efficiency of our inland communications system and Pittsburgh serves as a unique laboratory for this technology. I am encouraged that WW (Wireless Waterways) will enable us to lay a strong foundation for the future.”

For Consol the company described the new technology as a model for other inland waterways.

“It also reinforces Consol Energy’s commitment to improving standards and safety, and is an important advancement in employee retention as it improves quality of life by providing our rivers crews the opportunity to stay in contact with family and friends while working on board the boat,” said Al Aloia, director of Consol’s river operations, in a written statement.

The Wireless Waterways project is part of the Interoperability Test Bed, which was started in 2012 with grants from Allegheny County, Department of Homeland Security, and the Port of Pittsburgh Commission.

Consol’s river division has 23 boats, 600 barges and 230 employees. The Wireless Waterways network was built by Conxx Pennsylvania Inc.

Malia Spencer covers energy and technology. Contact her at mspencer@bizjournals.com or 412-208-3829.