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Case Study:  State University of New York at Buffalo

September 2005
SUNY Buffalo Uses Advisory Radio to Inform On-Campus Travelers.
Communication Goals
By acquiring our new radio system, first, we wanted to improve communication to on-campus travelers regarding daily and event-driven traffic issues. Second, and perhaps even more important, we wanted to broadcast emergency and weather related information that would affect campus travel. Finally, the radio system helps us provide additional parking and activity information for guests. We host many extracurricular activities that bring visitors to the SUNY-Buffalo campus i.e., concerts, football games and sporting events.

Implementation Team
The project was conceived after talking with contacts from the New York State Thruway Authority. Chief John Grela sought funding for the project via Student Affairs. University Police was asked to select the site and install the station, while Parking and Transportation Services produces ongoing programming. Information Station Specialists tuned the antenna and trained university personnel. Information Station Specialists also helped up front with specific information regarding installation issues unique to the nature of the low frequency equipment. We also enlisted Information Station Specialists’ help with FCC license application and special temporary assignment license acquisition while waiting for the permanent license to be granted. Information Station Specialists performed a check-out of the equipment installation and field strength measurements to assure FCC compliance.

System Setup
We purchased an Information Station from Information Station Specialists. Our station is located at the Campus Mail Center/University Police garage and is controlled and programmed via telephone line. The antenna is center-mounted on a metal roof, which is the groundplane for the antenna system. We selected this location because the metal roof simplified groundplane installation and because of the height of the building. The tip of the antenna can only be 45 feet above average terrain. Most buildings on campus are multiple-floor structures and would exceed this limit. Our station callsign is WQCT657, transmitting on 1620 kHz. The station covers a 2.5-to-3-mile radius from its antenna centerpoint. We use road signs, parking-lot signs, campus shuttle frame advertising and our website to announce the station and its frequency to listeners. Many folks, coming onto campus, note the entrance signage and tune in to assist with wayfinding, etc.

Success Measurements
We consider our advisory radio station to be a valuable tool for interfacing with the University community. Recently, for example, it was used during the aftermath of the Law Library O’Brian Hall fire. Broadcasts told students how to find rescheduled classes and temporary classrooms. We are still exploring overall use and trying various audio formats and campus voices to see what’s most effective. We conducted an on-line survey about our parking services. Of those reporting that they had experience with UB Alert 1620, 77% rated it “Good” to “Very Good." (Contact Linda Velazquez at SUNY-Buffalo to request detailed survey results and articles.)

Challenges
The biggest problem we encountered was mounting the antenna on the metal roof. The roof had a recently renovated rubber covering that had to be penetrated according to code. University Facilities engineered and installed guying and made appropriate penetrations for the coax, ground wiring and guy mounts. (See installation photos, left.) An additional challenge was educating departments on the purpose of the station; many had hoped to market programs, events, guest speakers, etc., through this medium (we received requests to broadcast games, market various research labs, venues on campus and clubs). Since our station's purpose is to provide on-campus traveler advice to improve day-to-day and event-driven traffic, our messages include general parking and transportation tips, special large events that impact traveling or parking on campus, road repairs/lot repairs, campus closures, early dismissals, and emergency notifications.

Words of Wisdom
We recommend limiting the number of persons with access to changing messages. As the word spreads about the service and its usage, more and more departments are reaching out to us. We have a specific team with authority and access to broadcast messages. In the middle of the night, someone needs to be a point person; and someone also needs to maintain scheduling of aired messages if time sensitive. Also, it's important to establish guidelines for message content. With the exception of an emergency message, only those messages with a direct impact on campus travel or parking should be accepted for broadcast. Develop a message plan with slots in place in the standard format. New messages can be inserted without reloading or changing the basic message.

Supplier
We had a terrific experience with Information Station Specialists. Everyone involved from licensing, installation and field checkout was experienced, knowledgeable and professional. Information Station Specialists has been great.

university radio station
SUNY Buffalo AM radio station sign
Broadcasts help control SUNY-Buffalo parking acres.
The station directs motorists in a 3-mile radius (28 square miles).
SUNY Buffalo's TIS Equipment
Steve Barry of University Police provide technical support. The electronics enclosure is housed indoors, above his office.
AM radio roof-mounted antenna system
The antenna is on the roof.
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