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Topic Title: Radio Communications in the event of a national or regional civil emergency
Topic Summary: Does the current government policy make sense?
Created On: 15 May 2013 11:04 PM
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 15 May 2013 11:04 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1032
Joined: 05 September 2004

"Government emergency communications policy: Digital radio action plan report"

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-emergency
-communications-policy-digital-radio-action-plan-report

This should answer the question of what we do if large numbers of home lose their mains grid power or if satellite communications fail due to a solar storm etc.

If we switch off national AM and FM analogue transmitters we will have to rely on digital radio for civil emergency communications. The energy efficiency of digital radios will become an enormously important performance feature that could mean the difference between life and death in the midst of an emergency

(Questions for GCSE Science Students

- How long will a the average DAB receiver last on batteries in the midst of a regional or national emergency where mains grid power to the home is lost? [Spreadsheets with the power consumption of DAB radio receivers is available on the www.gov.uk website]

- Estimate how many radios can be powered from the stocks of batteries kept by a supermarket near you?

-Therefore how many people can listen to DAB emergency radio communications and for how long, using the stock of batteries in your local supermarket, in the event of a national or regional loss of the power grid?)

The digital radio switchover critera given in this document really are very different to those given in other documents.

"it will be necessary for coverage of both local and national to match current FM levels and near universal conversion of households (who consume radio) before any switchover takes place"

This would be an extremely expensive policy for the public to fund!

Full quotes from the document given below:

"3.4.3 The criteria which Government has stated would need to be satisfied before any Radio Switchover is that:
. 50% of listening is to digital platforms; and
. national coverage is comparable to FM and local coverage reaches 90% of the population and all major roads.

This is just the threshold for setting a date for switchover and it will be necessary for coverage of both local and national to match current FM levels and near universal conversion of households (who consume radio) before any switchover takes place. Therefore, the implementation of a switchover policy would not, either during its implementation or after completion, affect radio's role in any emergency communications."

"3.5 Conclusion

3.5.1. It is clear that radio, both as in analogue and digital form, continues to have an on-going role in emergency planning protocols, although it is now part of a wider range of communication methods.

3.5.2. While a radio switchover will result in the closure of AM services, which had historically been important to the Government's protocols in this area, the diminishing value of this platform means it is increasingly less relevant as a universal communication platform. As a result in considering the impact of a possible switchover it is necessary to compare digital radio against FM not AM services. In this context the Radio Switchover proposals will replicate existing FM coverage and ensure a transition which protects consumers, therefore assuring an efficient transition and the widespread availability of radio services capable of having an active future role in communicating during local and national events."



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James Arathoon
 16 May 2013 01:11 AM
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ectophile

Posts: 526
Joined: 17 September 2001

Originally posted by: jarathoon

- Estimate how many radios can be powered from the stocks of batteries kept by a supermarket near you?


Unless you're planning on looting your local shops in an emergency, that makes little difference.

It doesn't take much to bring a modern supermarket grinding to a halt these days. With all the tills computerised, a power cut means that the whole shop has to be closed.

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S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
 16 May 2013 09:49 AM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1032
Joined: 05 September 2004

Just because everything else is becoming fragile, and vulnerable to power cuts doesn't mean that the radio transmission system should be made equally fragile.

Even if the authorities wanted to, I doubt they could keep a national DAB transmitter system running in the event the national grid went down for some reason.

It would be easiest to keep the lowest frequency and most far ranging radio transmissions going in the midst of a civil emergency. These are precisely the bands we are getting rid of in terms of national transmissions.

This was the point I was really tring to make.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 17 May 2013 12:32 AM
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ectophile

Posts: 526
Joined: 17 September 2001

The trouble is, nobody's listening to AM any more, and many new radios won't even receive it.

I've got an old transistor radio that only does medium wave and long wave. It's pretty much useless indoors these days. Almost any electronic gadgets (including CFLs) put out masses of interference. Even the ADSL signal over the phone line causes interference.

FM is cheap, simple, energy-efficient, and most people are still using it.

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S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
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