Remote Communities throughout Queensland’s Cape York and the Gulf of Carpentaria now have access to an accurate and up to date Emergency Warning Service via the Black Star Radio Network. (You can read all about Black Star here.)
Over recent days, the Gulf and Cape York region has seen the first cyclone event for the year – last night Cyclone Oswald whipped across the Gulf, cutting bringing torrential rain and closing the roads to Doomadgee and Pormpuraaw. It crossed into the Cape betwen Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw with winds of up to 100kmh. So it was important that Black Star has launched its Broadband Cyclone Information and Warning System. This unique system is able to generate up-to-date weather warnings from various sources, including bom.gov.au and oz cyclone chasers on Facebook.
The information is recorded as an announcement, then sent directly to the program logs of remote stations within the network, and played out automatically. We tailor information not just to the region, but to specific towns and communities with Black Star network stations. It gives people up-to-date messages that no one else provides to them in this way.
It’s a 24-hour job keeping cyclone information up to date . QRAM works with Innisfail-based Coastal Broadcasters, who provide recorded cyclone updates during the daylight hours. Coastal Broadcasters also prepare Black Star weather forecasts for our Cape York and Gulf of Carpentaria radio stations for as a community service. These run from mornings through to 11pm at night, 7 days a week.
During this Cyclone Oswald event, QRAM staff continued the updates throughout the night. Gilmore Johnson did the night shift this time, recording and updating cyclone warnings at 8pm, 11pm 2am and 5am to the affected areas. QRAM will continue to provide this service whenever there is a cyclone event in Far North Queensland.
Black Star relies on new network technology to send program material to stations, no longer just on Satellite technology. This means the network can guarantee immunity to satellite rain fade, a common problem that occurs during cyclone periods. Remote communities have traditionally depended wholly on satellite systems for the delivery of all radio and TV services in the past and these are among the first services to be lost whenever a cyclone is in the area. On many occasions this has effectively isolated people in the region at a time of great need. Black Star solves this issue and now we can deploy up to date information to any combination of targeted areas 24/7 and we know that the information will always get through regardless of weather conditions.