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Trial of disaster warning and relief broadcasts coincides with ABU summit

Twelve radio networks are taking part in a special trial of emergency warning systems using shortwave, to coincide with an ABU summit on climate change and disaster relief in Jakarta. The DRM consortium is providing special broadcasts for the trial on 5-6 June 2014.

Mr Oldrich Cip, Chair of the international High Frequency Coordination Committee (HFCC), said South and East Asia was the largest disaster-prone region of the world, which was why the HFCC had decided to organise a trial of the International Radio for Disaster Relief project of co-ordinated shortwave broadcasting to disaster affected regions in cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.

Mr Cip said: “With only six per cent of people in low-income countries using the internet in 2011, the digital divide is still stark and access to low cost media technology is really the key.”

He said the simplicity and reach of shortwave was important where other platforms such as satellite, FM or the Internet were unavailable because of high cost, geographical location, lack of infrastructure or due to restrictions or disasters.

“Receivers are inexpensive and there are no access fees,” he said. “Shortwave radio is important for travellers and isolated people and it reaches across the Digital Divide to the most disadvantaged and marginalised societies.”

The Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) consortium said the Emergency Warning Features of the DRM system would be demonstrated to show that shortwave broadcasting had a unique value for affected populations and that the existing framework of global shortwave coordination could be employed for disaster risk purposes. 

A special DRM radio program will explain the inbuilt emergency functionality of DRM and how alarm signals generated by authorities could override running programs and carry the emergency message instantly to large numbers of people.

Consortium Chairman Ms Ruxandra Obreja said DRM was excited to have its first radio broadcast on the in-built emergency disaster functionality of DRM during an important event such as that in Jakarta.

“During emergencies and times of crisis, most of the services fail,” she said. “Radio is the last line of communication and the obvious solution for bringing information to the people.”

The IRDR trial will coincide with the ABU Media Summit on Climate Change, ICTs and Disaster Risk Reduction from 4-6 June in Jakarta, Indonesia.