Digital emergency broadcast system will make road tunnels safer

London, UK: RadioScape, the digital radio solutions company, has supplied the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) technology for a new DAB safety broadcast system for use in road tunnels. The system is called RadioScape TunnelAlert.

When an hazardous incident occurs in a road tunnel, the system is switched on and it replaces the audio on all the DAB audio services being re-broadcast in the tunnel with a live emergency message, providing vehicle occupants with safety instructions. Systems have been in existence to deliver this service on FM for some time but RadioScape is the first company to provide systems for DAB.

Prompted by the Mont Blanc tunnel disaster in Switzerland a few years ago, a recent EU mandate requires that long tunnels (over 500 metres) must have an emergency broadcast system that will automatically change the in-car entertainment system to the emergency channel. There are over 2000 tunnels in Europe that will require such a system.

RadioScape has partnered with Tyco Traffic & Transportation, a systems integration company that specialises in providing radio re-broadcast systems, emergency radio systems and PA/EVAC systems, to create TunnelAlert.

The system monitors the specified on-air DAB multiplexes (received outside the tunnel and, in normal conditions, re-broadcast inside), dynamically updating the in-tunnel DAB multiplexer system to follow their configuration. This local multiplexer can then be switched in to replace the rebroadcast signal if an incident occurs, encoding the warning messages in real-time. In this way, all the DAB car radios in the tunnel switch seamlessly from the external service to the warning message.

The first tunnel to have TunnelAlert installed will be the Rotherhithe Tunnel in East London, UK. It is expected to go live early in 2006.

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