LONDON — Following recent major natural disasters in Germany, such as those in the Ahr Valley and parts of Upper Bavaria in 2021, the country’s authorities recognize the value of emergency warnings and are turning increasingly to DAB+. The broadcast format, already loved by listeners for bringing them more of their favorite radio stations in digital quality, boasts technical parameters ideally suited for reaching those under threat.
Its robust transmission and broad “high tower, high power” reach mean DAB+ can remain available in crisis situations, even if the cellular network infrastructure fails, such as due to flooding or the loss of DSL switches.
In Germany, which has one of the most developed emergency systems, alerts issued via DAB+ already supplement the familiar warning channels, such as cellular broadcast, warning apps, sirens, loudspeaker announcements and analog radio. The country tests the system regularly. The next Bundesweiter Warntag (National Warning Day) is on 14 Sept.
Digital radio emergency warnings through DAB+ data services can be more precise and up-to-date than verbal analog radio warning messages and target big and smaller regions, cities or even parts of cities. Future radio sets will be able to wake from standby, alerting people at night, with chip manufacturers involved in developing this process.
Lessons learned from local disasters, the looming threats from tense international situations and the impacts of climate change are encouraging members of Digitalradio Deutschland to develop international standards for emergency warnings.
The organization, which includes ARD, Deutschlandradio, commercial radio broadcasters, equipment manufacturers and network operators, has compiled a summary of its work in this area, including a system concept and potential uses.
The document also sets out the next steps towards international rollout, including working with stakeholders such as WorldDAB on global standards, alongside developing, testing and implementing a DAB+ warning system in Germany to market readiness. The target is to have marketable devices available in early 2025.
Carsten Zorger of Digitalradio Büro Deutschland and project consultant Andreas Gorsak gave a presentation on the emergency warnings system at the recent ABU/ASBU/WorldDAB Technical Workshop, whith took place in July. You can watch the video here.
The author is communications manager for WorldDAB.