A new state‐wide replacement warning siren control system using lower bandwidth, with the ability to remotely monitor and test area‐specific sirens regardless of on which island they were located. The technology would need to contend with Hawaii’s geographical topology and permit sirens to be installed where previously that was not possible.
Hawaii worked with ORBCOMM and its Solution Provider, Federal Signal, a provider of safety and security solutions, to develop the new state‐wide siren system. The system relies on Inmarsat-approved Internet of Things (IoT) satellite hardware from ORBCOMM and cell towers to transmit data from remote sites to the central office and provide total control and execution of the warning system. The new sirens use solar panels and batteries rather than relying on the electrical grid.
Hawaii State Civil Defense leads the State in prevention, protection and rapid assistance during disasters with a full range of resources and effective partnerships. Their responsibility includes hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, landslides, tornados, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. As part of its mandate, State Civil Defense maintains the state‐wide outdoor siren warning system. It is designed to alert the public to any emergency that may pose a threat to life and property. In addition to natural and technological hazards, the siren warning system could be used for terrorist incidents or acts of war.
At the time of project completion, at least 490 sites were using Federal Signal sirens and ORBCOMM IoT terminals to warn residents of possible emergencies. The benefits of the alarm system include redundancy, increased efficiency and cost saving.
“The sat/cell solution gives us better ability to expand in areas where we don’t have radio coverage,” explains Tom Simon, Systems Engineer at Hawaii Civil Defense. “We no longer have to rely on the public to report a failed siren.” Sirens can be monitored and tested remotely. The new system includes the ability to query and change the status of specific sirens; confirm that sirens operate as expected during tests and emergencies; monitor the solar charger, battery voltage; and alert authorities if someone intrudes into the system.
“Everywhere we have a siren currently installed, we’re able to verify that cellular and satellite service is available. This is the most foolproof way to make sure that the sirens will sound during an emergency.”
Systems Engineer at Hawaii Civil Defense
“Buying new, lower‐bandwidth 800 MHz trunk radios costs about $570,000 more than leasing space on commercial satellite and cellular networks” said George Burnett, Hawaii Civil Defense Telecommunications Branch Chief. “Amortized over a 10‐year period, combined with the lower cost of related equipment, there was a cost advantage.”
About the technology
Inmarsat offers the broadest portfolio of global broadband, IoT and voice satellite services. Our ground network and satellites operates with an average availability of 99.9%, so whatever enterprise or governmental organisation you work in, you can depend on Inmarsat’s connectivity, wherever your operations are based. Our portfolio of services is accessed via a variety of portable, vehicular and fixed terminals that are rugged enough to withstand challenging environments and extremes of temperature.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) is the emergency management agency for the State of Hawaii. It serves as the coordinating agency between the four county emergency management agencies and as State Warning Point. Emergency response is only one of the functions of Hawaii EMA. The five core capabilities that guide Hawaii EMA are Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery.