.

.

.

.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Humanitarian Radio Test Demonstrates New Geopolitical Realities


During the Cold War era, the medium of shortwave radio was in many ways a predecessor to today’s Internet. For decades, the busy airwaves reflected the geopolitical and international security realities of the day, as over 100 nations transmitted messages that fused domestic and international news with large doses of propaganda. The radio dial was interspersed with squelches of military radar echoes, maritime and aviation traffic, mysterious “numbers” counting stations for international spies, and even military attempts to inject the ionosphere with energy to disrupt communications, or perhaps even incoming International Ballistic Missiles. With the end of the Cold War era and the rise of Internet technology, the shortwave radio spectrum has decayed into a more vacuous space. Many international broadcasters have curtailed their shortwave operations, and instead produce their content for online consumption.

Yet, this past week, at the Media Summit on Climate Change, ICTs and Disaster Risk Reduction in Jakarta, Indonesia, 12 international shortwave broadcasters were able to accomplish a remarkable feat for the first time in the history of radio broadcasting--all articulated through the geopolitical and humanitarian realities of today. National level broadcasters from the United States, China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, the Vatican, and others piloted the International Radio for Disaster Reduction project in partnership with the High Frequency Coordinating Council (HFCC), the Arab States Broadcasting Union, and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.

For a full 24 hour day, these broadcasters collaborated to focus a schedule of transmissions on Jakarta on a set frequencies to simulate a focused, international effort to broadcast simulated humanitarian content in the event of a large-scale disaster.

Despite the fact that Internet-enabled cell-phones and tablets are becoming a dominant form of communication technology, in areas such as the Asia-Pacific and Africa, shortwave broadcasting is still a robust and redundant platform that can cross the digital and literacy divide. As proven by this week's test, shortwave radio can also cross the disaster divide in a region extremely vulnerable to mega disasters and the impacts of climate change.

According to Oldrich Cip of the HFCC,
This is for the first time ever that international radio stations have volunteered to demonstrate that shortwave broadcasting is capable of communicating relevant information to the affected populations immediately after a disaster strikes. Receivers are light- weight and cheap and the technology is unique in being completely disaster resistant: the transmitting facilities can be hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away from the disaster zone suffering from a total communication and information blackout.
The International Radio for Disaster Reduction test proved that, from a communications perspective, nations can form an effective humanitarian security architecture that can act as beacons to millions who may be victims of a mega disaster.

Perhaps most interestingly, both the United States and China participated in this successful event together. In 2012, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed that the U.S.'s growing engagement in the Asia-Pacific was intended to"take steps to confront the mutual challenges that both of our countries face." Panetta cited disaster relief and humanitarian assistance as the top two mutual challenges for both regional powers. This week's test is an example that collaboration among regional powers can help foster unique security architectures with profound implications.

[Via: High Frequency Coordinating Council, ReliefAnalysis.com; Image: NASA depiction of a hazard emanating from Indonesia (smog and smoke)]

Monday, June 2, 2014

Radyo Abante Offers Glimpse Into Future of Humanitarian Broadcasting


An extremely potential evolution in the future of humanitarian broadcasting may be developing in the wake of the Philippines' recovery from Super Typhoon Haiyan.

A radio outlet named Radyo Abante has formed in the disaster impact zone to help bridge the gap between impacted disaster survivors and relief and recovery operations. NGO's Misereor and World Vision International helped to facilitate Radyo Abante with the goal of employing displaced local journalists whose livelihoods have been disrupted, as well as to create a critical information flow between aid agencies and residents.

According to an outstanding article written by UCANews.com:
the idea of a humanitarian radio station encouraged people to talk about the needs of their communities that are relayed via the radio station to aid agencies.
[Via: UCANews.com; Image: UNCHR]

Thursday, May 29, 2014

International Radio for Disaster Relief: Test Update

The High Frequency Co-ordination Conference's test of the International Radio for Disaster Reduction is still on track for June 5-6, 2014. A roster of international shortwave broadcasters is being developed to participate in a coordinated broadcast schedule of humanitarian information focused on CIRAF Zone 54 (Indonesia). The test will be conducted at the Media Summit on Climate Change, ICTs and Disaster Risk Reduction organised by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.

According to Oldrich Cip of the HFCC,
This is for the first time ever that international radio stations have volunteered to demonstrate that shortwave broadcasting is capable of communicating relevant information to the affected populations immediately after a disaster strikes. Receivers are light- weight and cheap and the technology is unique in being completely disaster resistant: the transmitting facilities can be hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away from the disaster zone suffering from a total communication and information blackout.
Special thanks to Mr. Cip for the latest official broadcast schedule below.

In addition, please visit Alokesh Gupta's outstanding site Radioactivity for additional information regarding the schedule, as well as the participation of DRM.


Jakarta Media Summit IRDR Trial 5 - 6 June 2014
UTC
Organisation
Notes
0200-0230
21840 kHz
ABC Radio Australia
Antenna HRS 4/4/0.5, 329deg
100 kW
Shepparton

0230-0530
15650 kHz
BBC/Babcock
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
LPH 150 deg.

0500-0530
21840 kHz
Radio Vatican

0530-0600
15650 kHz
SLBC Sri Lanka
Trinkomalee

0600-0700
15650 kHz
First Response Radio/FEBC
Philippines


0700-0730


0730-0800
21840 kHz
MGLOB Madagascar 
250 kW bearing 085 deg. antenna TM
Alternative:
0930-1000
0800-0830
IBB
PHT and/or UDO
Alternative:
0830-0900
0830-0900
15650 kHz
NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN
Palau - 270 deg.

0900-0930
IBB
PHT and/or UDO

Alternative:
0930-1000
0930-1000


1000-1030
15650 kHz
All India Radio
Bangalore 500 kW
4/4/0.5 at 120 deg

1030-1100
21840 kHz
RTC - China
Standard Chinese, 
site: BEI

1100-1130
15650 kHz
KTWR Guam



Sunday, May 18, 2014

Texas Dust Storm Disrupts VHF Emergency Repeater Infrastructure



A strong dust storm caused disruption with the Panhandle Regional Interoperable Communication System in Texas on April 29, according to Amarillo.com. The emergency VHF system PANCOM, which is being rolled out to provide interoperable communications for fire, emergency services, and law enforcement, ultimately sustained no equipment damage.

Cyclone Ita: Radio Australia Activated Redundant Shortwave Outlet


Special thanks to Southgatearc.org, who on April 17 reported that the Australia Broadcasting Corporation had activated a redundant shortwave broadcasting capability as Cyclone Ita bore down on Queensland. According to the article
Radio Australia activated its purpose built shortwave outlet in Shepparton Victoria to beam the latest cyclone information into Queensland thousands of kilometres to its north.
Ita caused serious humanitarian issues in Papua New Guinea as well as the Solomon Islands. Click here for audio.

An outstanding overview of the ABC's broadcast coverage of Ita's landfall, as well as audio can be found at The SWL'ing Post. SWL'ing Post reader Mark Fahey's audio was captured during the event from the re-purposed shortwave transmitter in Shepparton on 6.15 MHz on April 11.

[Via: Southarc.org, SWL'ing Post. Image: European Union/ECHO]

Syrian Wheat and Barley Production Fall by 50%


Wheat and barley production in Syria has plummeted to by over 50% according to the Food and Agricultural Organization. Rainfall deficits ranged from 55% to 85% to some areas of the nation between October 2013 and April 2014. The ongoing conflict has also stressed Syria's already precarious food insecurity situation. This time span represented the driest winter in decades across much of the Middle East, which could have implications for global food prices.

[Via: FAO via AlertNet, ReliefAnalysis.com, Reuters; Image: National Public Radio]

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Equipment Review: DE660 and 1126


ReliefAnalysis.com just had the opportunity to review two unique products from Kaito Electronics. The first product, the Degen DE660 (above), is a multipurpose Bluetooth wireless speaker and FM radio. The second product, the Degen DE1126, is a pocket-sized shortwave radio with broadcast and voice recording capabilities. While both of these small radios make for unique tools in hobbyist’s toolbox, the true implication for both products are their potential use for journalists and humanitarian field workers.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

El Nino Geopolitics


For international security analysts, humanitarian operations planners, and humanitarian logisticians, the ability to identify emerging global hot spots is crucial. Over the coming months, areas such as Syria, the Crimea, Venezuela, Sudan, and the Central African Republic will no doubt make a list of potential shatter belts, complex emergencies, and geopolitical flashpoints worth monitoring.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Equipment Review: KA550 World Receiver




This is a cross-post from Relief Analysis Radio.
See a summary from the SWLing Post.

Relief Analysis Radio just had a unique opportunity to review Kaito Electronics' KA550 World Receiver, which features AM, FM, SW, and NOAA radio bands as well as a host of redundant power options.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Next Black Swan?




Cross-posted by the Center for Climate and Security


A new "Black Swan" may be emerging for the international humanitarian community. Often defined as a high impact, low probability wildcard--this new threat could be game changer for almost anyone involved in international security, disaster recovery, or relief work. The threat lurks just a few hundred feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, and if researcher Matthew England is correct, in a few years time we all may have something extraordinary to contend with.