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Sencorp
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Posted: 02 December 2012 at 3:20pm | IP Logged Quote Sencorp

I have been wondering about Emergency broadcast override? Back in the states its a law that all FM and AM broadcasts can be over ridden when an emergency broadcast is issued. We had equipment tied in on the front of the audio line that would detect the RF signal from the EBS and would switch off our audio and take over to provide information to the listeners as to the type of emergency it was. 
  How is that done here in NZ? Personally I feel more comfortable having some type of EBS in place on the systems. 


Edited by Sencorp on 02 December 2012 at 3:21pm
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RadioTech
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Posted: 02 December 2012 at 5:41pm | IP Logged Quote RadioTech

We're not as advanced (or restricted) as that here (yet).

As I understand it, the NZ Civil Defence Authority has agreements with certain (mainly commercial) radio stations to broadcast messages which are generally sent by phone, fax or email to the station.

The problem is, we have so few civil emergencies here that when one does happen, it takes people a while to get things coordinated.
In some cases the systems don't even work, as I noted a few years ago when I was living near Auckland. A storm came through that knocked out power lines, brought trees down, closed roads and tore roofs off buildings.

The commercial radio station which covers the entire area was out of action, because they didn't have a generator and the power to the studios was out.

Another commercial station some distance away was able to be heard where we were, but their coverage area was not in our direction, so a lot of people would not have been able to receive them.
As it was, they were not experiencing this storm in the city where their studios were, so there was no emergency information being broadcast.

The only way I knew what was going on was by listening to the emergency services channel on my coms receiver (in our area both police and fire shared the same channel). This was possible because I have back-up power systems which meant we were the only house in the valley that had any lights on!

It used to be a requirement of having a radio transmission license that you had to have back-up power for both the studios and the transmitter site, but this clause has long since disappeared from the regulations.

Civil Defence expect radio stations to broadcast their emergency messages, but they will not supply funding for generators for those stations.

We don't have an EBS system here as you did in the USA. It's only recently that tsunami warning sirens have been installed along the coast lines.

I was not there when it happened but I did hear reports that when the earthquakes happened in the South Island last year, most of the commercial radio stations were off the air due to infrastructure damage.
It seems that the LPFM operators were able to stay on air (in most cases) and provide practical information for listeners.

The issue there is that the Civil Defence would not be able to contact most of these stations in an emergency, as easily as they could make contact with the commercial operators.
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Sencorp
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Posted: 03 December 2012 at 4:42am | IP Logged Quote Sencorp

Wow. Hmm,, ya know? That really gets the wheels running in my head how to solve that problem and put something in place. I will have to have a think about it and do some research and make a few calls for information on what it is i'm thinking.  Thanks for clearing that up for me. I have a few ideas right off the bat of some ideas how to put something in place but Ill do some research first before I say anything, and would love to get your thoughts on it after.

Cheers!

Jack.


**Edit** (Had a cigar and thought about it)

  So I was thinking of my old Pirate radio days when we had to be sneeky FCC outlaws. (hehe) We had been served with a stop broadcasting notice from the FCC one day. The station was all set up in my house and one Saturday afternoon we had several black SUV's with antennas on the roof tops of the trucks parked out in front of my house. We of course shut down but thought of plan B to stay on the air. We found an old warehouse that had cheap rent. ($90 usd a month) and set up everything there. It was a huge building and was 8 stories tall. The highest point was the elevator shaft room where we set up our antenna and disguised it as an old TV areal. 
   The run from where we set up the studio was about 275 ft away. So the problem was, how to set up our transmitter close to the antenna, but still have control over the power.  The solution was easy. We took an old Inferred transmitter and receiver and hacked it up.  We took the IR LED off the transmitter, and took the IR LED off the Receiver. We then wired up the IR output of the transmitter to produce a audio signal. One signal was for ON and the other was OFF.  We recorded that audio sound and put them in our SAM broadcaster marked at ON and OFF for each.   We installed the transmitter about 5 ft from the antenna, on its own power supply in the elevator room.  Attached to the power supply was the IR receiver wired up with an audio cable that ran all the way over to our studio.   When we wanted to turn the transmitter on, we would access the request function of SAM and load up the ON MP3.  When that would play, it would send that ON audio signal down the line to the receiver and would trip the IR receiver into the On position on the relay.
    That would turn our transmitter on. The relay would trip, and supply power to our transmitter and then would play the next song in queue. The point to this story is this....

   Why can something this simple be done on a EBS.  A simple radio receiver listening for the same type of ON and OFF audio trigger. Once it hears that, it switches to the recorded audio message that is broadcast (Text to speech format) from what ever authority issues the EBS. 

    (Note I am not explaining the tech issues of delivering the EBS message to the stations, just looking at the triggering aspect of it. The delivery of the EBS is not that hard either and can be done even by Text from a cell phone if need be.)
    Really hope this makes sense. Our system worked great, was easy to do, and on a grand scale, its just a matter of developing the hardware (Not hard to do) and making it available to any broadcast station to use at any time.

   What do you think?

     


Edited by Sencorp on 03 December 2012 at 5:02am
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RadioTech
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Posted: 03 December 2012 at 3:05pm | IP Logged Quote RadioTech

You make some valid points there. To actually get these messages on air is not difficult.
Station Playlist (a popular and widely-used system here in NZ) has the ability to respond to external triggers and it can be programmed to allow such updates to be automatically slotted in where needed.

The delivery to the station is the critical path. In a CD emergency, it's likely that infrastructure such as internet, phone lines etc will be down - so these cannot be relied upon to distribute messages.

I think a meeting with CD (Civil Defence) would be useful. I have not spoken to them since 2007 (after that big storm I mentioned above) when I called in to see the local boss about the fact that the only commercial station which should have been on air wasn't, due to them not having a back-up power supply.
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Sencorp
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Posted: 06 December 2012 at 12:42pm | IP Logged Quote Sencorp

Part of the write up about what happened yesterday. 


 "

"I've never seen anything like it," one said. The concrete slabs must have weighed 20 tonnes, he said, but they were being picked up "like they were small rocks".

As they watched the body recovery, the workers spoke of receiving no warning bad weather was on its way, even though weather alerts had been issued for more than an hour."

Really has pushed me to start looking at what can be done about this.




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