Radiocommunication Study Groups

Use of existing terrestrial broadcasting infrastructure to support emergency communications in disaster situations

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Use of existing terrestrial broadcasting infrastructure to support emergency communications in disaster situations

Television broadcasting's commitment to providing local news and information for many hours a day has created established in-house procedures to deal with the dissemination of all types of news. These same procedures are easily and quickly adaptable to provide life and safety information to the public. Stations are linked via Emergency Alert Systems to state and national emergency information channels and can repeat messages from civil and governmental authorities very quickly. Electronic News Gathering and satellite outside broadcast vehicles are quickly deployed to be on-the-scene with live pictures and sound. These facilities are also deployed at civil and governmental press conferences and instantaneously relay information to the public.  Closed Captioning systems along with full screen graphical displays, news "tickers" and lower-third screen text information make sure that those who are hearing impaired are also provided with emergency information. Even the simplest form of communication, for example, telephone calls can serve as a source to the broadcast signal and can be placed on-air from public officials or civilians in the disaster area and their messages relayed to viewers and listeners.

Terrestrial broadcasters have adapted many different technologies to aid in news gathering and the dissemination of emergency information:

  • Live and recorded mobile phone videos can be placed on the air, making it possible to use non-traditional broadcasting equipment to share important information.

  • Broadcasters are adapting small aperture satellite dish technology that allows for  a more easily deployed satellite news gathering tool in a local market.

  • Diversity microwave receive sites that make it possible to use small vehicles equipped with microwave transmitters to drive and report on road and other conditions.

  • Helicopters to give overall views of an area-wide emergency.

  • Computer mapping software to quickly document and display details of an emergency to the public.

The following Annex provides examples where existing terrestrial broadcasting infrastructure has been used to support emergency communications in disaster situations:

  • Annex 4A: BBC Media Action - Use of existing broadcast infrastructure.

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