Over the past five years, QRAM and its Black Star radio network has gained a reputation as the innovator in remote indigenous media.
A starting point was this: imagine if all remote Indigenous radio services were reliably on-air 24 hours a day 7 days a week? Imagine if Indigenous people in remote areas had services with the level of reliability that is normal to people in capital cities?
Unfortunately, until now, it has been a common occurrence in remote community stations that the slightest mishap can knock out a service for weeks.
QRAM’s method has been to develop radio services connected to a 21st century communication data grid, guaranteeing connectivity around the clock.
Our newest innovation is a monitoring system that creates an immediate alarm so we can attend to the issue and keep the station on air.
The Remote Monitoring System (RMS), via data streaming, collects and analyses all sorts of information about the technical systems underpinning the service, revealing patterns and trends.
With an RMS we can monitor quality of satellite reception, the temperature in the transmission site, the amount of power we are using, the amount of reflection from the transmitter, audio quality and all details of what is current playing on air on a site by site basis.
Current data is compared to set limits. If things start to go beyond these limits, an alarm is raised on the Network Monitoring Board at Black Star Central, via SMS message and email, and can be attended to immediately, usually before it becomes serious.
It can also add to efficiency and reduce costs. One of the biggest costs in remote communities is power for transmission and air conditioners. By monitoring usage, power can be scaled back overnight, ensuring considerable savings on energy.
RMS allows stations to set and forget. It allows stations and their Hub to optimise their networks and to have more control, providing programs that each individual community wants.
QRAM Director Jim Remedio says “as accountability becomes more of a factor, we’re only going to see an increased uptake of these intelligent systems.”
QRAM is now rolling out it’s RMS across all 16 services, starting with Lockhart River, Weipa/Napranum and Aurukun and the new Lakeland service in August 2017.