International Radio for Disaster Relief On-the-Air Trial Set for June 5-6
A test — or trial — of the International Radio for Disaster Relief (IRDR) project will take place via international HF broadcast outlets on June 5-6, during the Media Summit on Climate Change, ICTs and Disaster Risk Reduction in Jakarta, Indonesia. Twelve major international HF broadcasters will take part in the exercise. The aim of the project is to identify and select dedicated interference-free frequencies that may be put into service to disseminate critical information during a disaster in the Asia Pacific Region. Broadcasters in Australia, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines will be among those taking part. The on-the-air trial is sponsored by the High Frequency Coordination Conference (HFCC), a non-governmental, non-profit organization and sector member of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
“From its infancy in the 1920s shortwave radio has [had the] potential of being a communication tool in emergencies,” HFCC said. “This use of shortwave radio is still very much present among Amateur Radio enthusiasts, for example, who discovered its long-distance properties early in the 20th century. In contrast the huge technical potential of international shortwave broadcasting, which operates transmitter facilities tens or hundreds of times more powerful than those of Amateur Radio, remains almost unused in emergencies. At the moment when local and even regional communication and information networks are needed most, they are destroyed or overloaded, and the population suffers from an information blackout. Shortwave radio is capable of remaining the only source of information.”
HFCC said that while the life-saving role of radio broadcasting is widely recognized, no concrete projects have ever been designed and no regulatory framework has been developed. The International Radio for Disaster Relief project that is based on a system of online frequency co-ordination, managed by the HFCC in accordance with International Radio Regulations.
“The use of shortwave transmissions as a delivery platform has some important advantages,” HFCC has explained. “For example, the transmitter of All India Radio located at Bangalore…is capable of covering the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, Southern Philippines, then down toward New Guinea and the northwestern part of Australia.”
Two frequency channels have been exclusively dedicated for use during the trial from 0200 to 1130 UTC, channels that fall outside of those used for regularly scheduled programs. Any of the stations volunteering in the disaster relief trial may use them, after coordinating their time slots with other participants.
Oldrich Cip of HFCC said that interest in the trial had indicated that it is realistic to establish a world-wide system of voluntary, disaster-relief shortwave radio stations using tools and services already in place. “Publicity is needed to raise awareness in the world community about it, since the ongoing cuts of shortwave installations might make this increasingly difficult,” he said.
More details about the IRDR and the trial — including a list of participating stations and frequencies —are on the HFCC website. HFCC said wants to hear from listeners, and it will offer a special QSL card.