Kerala

Radio wireless system put back in action

A radio wireless network system, which was installed more than a decade ago (in 2009) in all district headquarters in the State but abandoned later due to poor range and lack of proper maintenance, has been rejuvenated to effectively coordinate rescue operations even in adverse weather conditions.

Shibu George, an employee of DEOC (District Emergency Operation Centre), Thrissur, who is doing his research in disaster management, re-developed the system, with necessary upgrading, which can make disaster management faster and effective, during calamities.

Now all the seven Taluks in Thrissur district are connected to the Collectorate through the radio system. “The radio wireless system will function even when the mobile network and even satellite phone connection develop snag in adverse weather conditions. The system was effectively used in the district to coordinate relief operations during the floods last week,” says Mr. George.

Shibu George, who is doing his Ph.D research in ‘Modern Applications in Disaster Management based on Kerala Floods-2018’, happened to stumble upon the novel idea quite accidental.

He noticed the abandoned, dust-covered repeater, lying somewhere in the Thrissur Collectorate control room.

A repeater is an automated radio station that extends the range of communications. It consists of a receiver tuned to one frequency and transmitter tuned to another frequency, linked together with a controller device. When the receiver receives a signal, the controller activates the transmitter, which then simultaneously retransmits the received signal.

A repeater is usually installed on top of a tall building or on a mountain, and is equipped with an efficient antenna system, so it can receive weak signals and have wide transmission coverage.

Mr. George, who is a Ham Radio licence holder, sought the help of C.S. Sarath Chandran, radio officer and the duo, with permission from the then Thrissur District Collector S. Shanavas, made the repeater functional.

They installed it at the top of the Vilangan hillock, one of the highest points near Thrissur town. Powerful dipole antennas were connected to it to make it more efficient. To put this to the test, Shibu along with his colleague M.A. Ansil went to high seas (40 km off the shore) near Azhikode and assessed the signal capacity.

“The system can work in any emergency situation. It can track fishers in high seas, whenever their boat meets with an accident or fish workers get injured.”

Recently, a mobile message from a boat ‘Mother Theresa’ in the high seas was communicated to the DEOC by Azhikkode police that a fish worker got injured. Within minutes, the boat concerned was contacted through wireless and its GPS location identified, and this location was intimated to the coastal police boat, which could easily reach them.

“If the DEOC gets the official nod to use the Marine Frequency used by the fishers, it can easily get connected with the boats in distress in the high seas. If the 18 cycle centres in the coastal villages of the State can also link with the system, it will be a great step forward in coastal security management, ” Mr. George points out.

During the previous floods when heavy rains wreaked havoc, the Peringalkuthu dam area was isolated. The telephone links and satellite connection weakened due to cloudy skies. If a radio wireless system is installed in such risky areas, it will then be a remedy for the signal problem. During the great flood of 2018, rescue operations were seriously hit with the absence of network mechanisms.

As all the district quarters already have the system, we can rejuvenate them with minimum cost. Total expenditure incurred for repairing and installing the repeater and connecting all the seven Taluks in Thrissur district with the Vilangan hillock was only less than ₹70,000, he notes.

“If the emergency departments such as Revenue, Police and Forest are connected to the radio wireless system with a common frequency, it will take our disaster management system to another level,” he points out.


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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 4:11:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/radio-wireless-system-put-back-in-action/article37141332.ece

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