Early warning and emergency HF Communications for low lying Pacific islands

Early warning and emergency HF Communications for low lying Pacific islands

The island country of Tuvalu has recently upgraded their HF communications system as part of the National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA). Tuvalu is no higher than 3 meters above sea level making the country susceptible to storm surges and natural disasters.

The early warning and emergency communications project was designed and implemented to improve the response to climate related events by providing continuous communications to the outer islands. The communication systems were designed to be independent of existing public services and were required to be available at all times. A satellite based alarm system and High Frequency (HF) radio systems were proposed to accomplish this.

HF radio communications had been used in Tuvalu for many years, however the existing infrastructure had deteriorated and became inoperable.

Following a competitive tender process, Barrett Communications were selected to supply the equipment. The system includes Barrett 2050 HF transceivers and Barrett 2020 email, data and fax systems. A combination of antennas were selected, as some islands had limited land for installation of the antennas. The entire system is powered by solar with adequate reserve capacity to ensure reliable 24 hour operations to all sites.

On the main island of Funafuti, HF installations were provided at the Meteorological Office, Police Station, Telecom Exchange, NAPA Project Office and Fisheries Headquarters as well as on the project vessel. Each outer island has a HF system installed either at the Meteorological Office or at the local Telecom Office when there is no Meteorological Office.

Barrett Communications Managing Director, Mr Greg O’Neill commented “HF radio communications is seeing a resurgence due to its reliability and its independence of infrastructure, making it perfect for early warning and emergency communications following natural or manmade disasters. Systems simular to this are currently being used in other Pacific islands, islands of the Caribbean, in humanitarian aid activities in South America and in critical infrastructure projects in the United States of America.

A video titled “Linking the Island” – Early Warning Systems in Tuvalu can be viewed for more information on this project via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpPE9cxDmuU.

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