Other Case Studies
 Publisher:  Information Station Specialists
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Director Jim Zoss of Emergency Services (above) records a message at Fort Custer Airfield, while waiting with other public-safety officials (below) for arrival of the next plane load of Hurricane Katrina evacuees. An antenna system, located in Downtown Battle Creek, ensures coverage throughout the area.
Battle Creek Michigan Emergency Management January 2006
Acquires Wireless Audio Linked ALERT AM Radio Stations
Wireless Audio Links (WAL) are now available for the ALERT AM Emergency Advisory Radio system. Battle Creek, Michigan, was the test site and the first US community to have the capability.

WAL distributes audio to multiple ALERT AM satellite locations. The advantage: they do not need expensive telephone/cellphone links (subject to overload and severing during emergencies) to distribute audio. Moreover, the WAL system is totally owned and operated by emergency agencies themselves, such that during emergencies no issues with a third-party providers arise. The linking system is also fully supported by backup power.

The City of Battle Creek located their antennas at their EOC building downtown, at Firestation 6 (near Interstate Highway 94) and at the US Customs Building (5 miles northwest of the downtown area). This arrangement allows them good signal coverage over the river valley in which the city is situated as well as over the higher ground the freeway covers. The three locations enable listening to 1610-kHz-broadcasts over much of Interstate 94, making WAL an ideal communication tool should an incident close the freeway arise.
EventCAST Alleviates Hurricane Katrina Recovery Communication Needs
Before obtaining its ALERT AM stations, Battle Creek Emergency Services took advantage of the availability of a temporary EventCAST station from Information Station Specialists to help with Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

"We set the system up in a hurry, so it would be operational the weekend evacuees began to arrive," said Bill Baker of Information Station Specialists, who supplied the interim station. The EventCAST antenna was installed atop the city's Emergency Operations Center, downtown, to ensure adequate coverage.

Dictated from the field by Emergency Services director Jim Zoss, the initial Hurricane Katrina recovery broadcast began airing September 9, 2006. It was structured to help evacuees coming into the area in their own vehicles and to help local residents who need to know the location of and where they can support recovery efforts. With the touch of a button, director Zoss can easily update the 6-minute EventCAST hurricane-recovery message.

As it happens, the City already had the necessary FCC operating license, because they were in the process of purchasing a series of Information Station Specialists Emergency Advisory Radio stations. "Even so," said Baker, "special temporary licenses are usually pretty quickly obtained from the FCC. We often use them until permanent licenses come through, if stations need to get up and running right away."
The Battle Creek Emergency Advisory Radio System Today and in the Future
The FEMA-supported hurricane-recovery activity utilizing EventCAST was a prelude to Battle Creek's more-permanent solution of three ALERT AM stations for ongoing community service and emergency announcements. "We are even doing live storm-spotter announcements with our new system," explains emergency director Jim Zoss. "Funding came from a Homeland Security grant. We kicked off the new program with a press conference. And signs are strategically located throughout the city to alert motorists to tune in on a continuing basis," Zoss promises.

Battle Creek soon plans to install Information Station Specialists' Workstation Audio Control to allow drag-and-drop-message control of their three-station system.
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Information Radio Stations is a generic term synonymous with Travelers Information Stations (TIS), Highway Advisory Radio Stations (HAR) / Highway Information Systems & Low Power Radio Stations (LPR). Operation of the stations is governed by FCC Part 90.242 Rules. A FCC license is required. Information Radio Stations may be fixed or portable. Subcomponents may include transmitter, antenna and ground system, digital voice player, wattmeter, cabinet with conventional or Corbin locks, lightning arrestors for RF, power and telephone lines, coaxial cable. Most stations employ black maximized antennas to discourage ice accumulation and security measures to prevent unauthorized program access. Options include synchronization, battery backup, solar power, remote programming by local, network or telco, multi-station audio distribution via RF or LAN / WAN or wireless network.