Natural and man-made disasters or early alerts for refugee camps are familiar situations which humanitarians face and two-way radio continues to be extremely effective for one-to-one and one-to-many communication in such situations. So, how could this capability be extended to make it possible to broadcast mass notifications when a disaster occurs or an evacuation needs to be carried out?
Expanding the capabilities of traditional PA systems
One of the biggest challenges in disaster situations is a lack of mobile phone coverage within the affected areas. Traditional PA systems have been used to distribute mass notifications by broadcasting from desk-based microphones or through pre-recorded messages. But, what if guards and security officers were able to use their MOTOTRBO (DMR) or TETRA radios to broadcast an alarm as soon as a critical situation arises at a camp site or base? Minutes could be saved by enabling those closest to an incident to react and this can be achieved easily, today.
Motorola Solutions’ mission-critical IoT system can connect to your early warning sirens using your existing TETRA or MOTOTRBO network. The siren data and voice recordings are transported via the digital radio network to identified siren alarm locations. Not only does this allow alerts and announcements to be sent using two-way radios, it also leverages the inherent security of the digital radio network for more robust, end-to-end protection.
A customisable graphic user interface makes it easy to manage and control your sirens remotely. Activation and announcements can be made by selecting individual sirens or groups and zones and these can be programmed to send out alerts automatically, as well as enabling live broadcasts. You can also view events as they occur or store them for analysis afterwards and the system can be expanded to accommodate future growth.
Less infrastructure, lower costs, greater security
There are several ways in which our Early Warning Smart Siren solution can benefit humanitarian operations - including peace keeping missions, disaster response and development agencies:
Keeping communities safer
Disasters are becoming more frequent due to more extreme weather patterns and increased threats to public safety. They’re also largely unpredictable and potentially devastating, so a robust early-warning mass notification system is critical. Providing early, clear and continuous communication during an emergency, these systems can help humanitarians to work more effectively and keep communities safer.
Why should you replace your analogue radios with digital (DMR) radios?
Throughout my travels and interactions with humanitarians in the field, there is one question which keeps on coming up: “Why did Motorola phase out analogue radios…? They worked so well!” This suggests to me that many users do not see value in replacing their analogue radios with digital (DMR) radios.
If you consider DMR as a mere substitute for analogue, then you are absolutely right in your thinking: there aren’t many apparent benefits to everyday radio checks, whether you are using DMR or analogue. But then you are missing out on all the vast benefits which DMR has to offer over analogue. And one of the real values lies in its capability for integrated data.
Life in the humanitarian world isn’t just about “checking in” regularly. It’s about unpredictable situations and how well you can respond to them. It’s not about an ideal world, where networks are stable and reliable. It’s a world where harsh environments, extreme weather conditions and volatility can occur without warning.
How well can analogue radio support you in those conditions?
Setting aside the intrinsic features of a DMR radio - such as man-down, geolocation, etc. - which can support lone workers in potentially dangerous areas out in the field, I would like to bring up capabilities that are not seen as the primary benefits of a digital system. These are all around data transfer.
Sending vital information where it needs to go, as quickly as possible
What happens when lone workers who need to send life-saving or critical transactions (such as acknowledgements, beneficiary registrations or animal counting for wildlife conservation) are without any connection to an ISP or basic communication infrastructure? This is the reality of the situations humanitarians face.
DMR comes to the fore when you need to transfer critical data quickly and securely to improve the safety of your personnel and the communities you serve. Whether via Bluetooth or WiFi, you can connect virtually any device to a digital radio.
You can transfer data - from a simple text message to financial transactions or job tickets - at the same time as voice, meaning that the network does not cut off communications and you can prioritise and override channels as needed. This ensures that the most vital information gets to where it needs to go, as quickly as possible.
DMR also allows you to track the movement of personnel and vehicles in real time, keeping up to date as events unfold and making the most of limited time and resources in disaster situations. The ability to access and share crucial information enables people to make more informed decisions and more accurately assess situations, which could save more lives and improve the efficiency of everyday operations.
Analogue radio simply cannot achieve that.
So, that is why we have phased out analogue radios. DMR takes two-way radio communication way beyond basic voice functionality, expanding possibilities and helping humanitarians to be their best in the moments that matter.
When we meet again, I will be elaborating on the capabilities of DMR by taking a closer look at interoperability (IoP) and exploring the differences between private and commercial broadband.
If you’d like more information about how Motorola Solutions’ DMR portfolio can support your operations, get in touch with me, or click on the links below:
United Nations and International Accounts Manager