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Disaster Warnings

This article from the IEC

Helping cities cope with disasters | IEC e-tech

draws attention to reflect upon using the RDS Forum's experience on this topic which is of very wide interest nowadays.

An RDS-ODA could switch-on sirens, many or even only an individual one, to encourage people to switch on their radio and listen to the news and respective alert messages. On FM with RDS we could also take advantage of the alert announcement option. This offers the authorities in collaboration with broadcasters to send out warning messages. Experience has shown that FM is more robust than Internet. The high transmitter towers are seldom damaged in strong storms. Even if electricity fails, the transmitters use in most cases a backup power supply and many FM radio receivers work on batteries. This communication infrastructure based on FM radio is one of the most reliable ones and the RDS Forum highly recommends using it to prevent damage.

For using FM radio and RDS for disaster warnings the entire infrastructure is already there on both sides: transmitter and receiver and most of all it is very simple to operate. In case of a "real" catastrophe a mobile transmitter can be setup in a matter of minutes replacing a damaged "big tower". Portable radios, car radios and smart phones are all capable of alerting people using "standard" RDS with TP/TA, PTY31, RT, PS without even to change current firmware or software.

Adding special ODA's and RDS2 can even provide much more information and all that at relatively very little cost. So, obviously all that is apparently overlooked by those being officially in charge of disaster warnings.

Our RDS Forum experts have seen many use cases when working on the various national projects in France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA.

Most people involved in RDS know where to find help and they will all (or most anyway) agree to what is reported here, but the people that matter, being present in those disaster warning and national safety committees will never see this and they are completely unaware on what they are even talking about (eg switching-off FM in favour of Digital Radio instead).