A leading-edge system to give important news, alarm signals to citizenry of Šiauliai

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The inhabitants of Šiauliai town can rest assured that in an emergency situation they will be duly notified and will receive the necessary information promptly. The municipality of town has deployed what probably is the most advanced public warning and notification system in the country.

“There are several objects near Šiauliai that make it very important for our town to be prepared to warn the people instantly: the landfill in Aukštrakiai, the hazardous waste incineration plant outside the city, the Air Force base, the busy railway hub for transportation of Mažeikių Nafta’s cargo – all this obligates us to be properly prepared should there be a need to warn the citizens of a hazardous situation,” Genadijus Mikšys, the mayor of Šiauliai town said. In his words, until now the town has been equipped with 23 outmoded sirens.

“So far, Šiauliai has been equipped with electromechanical sirens that were built back in the Soviet era and would only emit one type of signal, the wail that everyone knows so well. Those sirens cannot be used to transmit any important information how people should act and the triggering of each and every siren cannot be easily tracked, and on top of that they are hard to control as well, because many of them need to be activated manually, besides, some of them are installed on properties that are not under the municipality’s control,” the mayor said.

A total of 13 siren sets complete with radio antennas, speakers and control facilities have been installed across the town, mainly on school buildings. Another radio communication antenna and central control board is installed at the workstation of the municipality’s civil safety specialist.

“That might well be the most advanced warning and notification system in Lithuania. The new sirens can transmit both voice messages and signals in different tones to warn of different types of events: for instance, one signal could be used to warn people of a chemical hazard, another could be sounded if a hurricane were coming. Besides, now it will be possible to broadcast real-time voice messages using a siren set up at any of the locations or some of the sirens, or all of them at once. The system will also offer a possibility to transmit messages as SMS or via computer network by logging in to the control panel,” Sergejus Bulachas, the director for Šiauliai region of the intelligent engineering solutions Fima, which deployed the system, said.

In his words, the control board has been installed with software and a map of siren locations. While using this system one can choose the type of messages to be broadcast from one or another siren location, etc. A crucial thing is that unlike the old systems, the new ones provide the feedback of messages broadcast and immediately notify persons in charge of potential failures in the system facilities. The centralised radio communication network system can be easily expandable if needed both by setting up additional points and integrating the existing ones.

In Bulachas’s words, the recent incidents of floods on the Nemunas river and rampaging tornadoes have showed that a lot of towns and cities are in a dire need for advanced emergency notification systems. “Today, the technology is offering opportunities that are immensely vast. For example, water level meters could be deployed at locations with potential flood emergencies that would transmit information about critical changes in the water level to the public warning system, which will automatically generate and broadcast a flood emergency message to the people. Notification to residents about hurricane and radiation emergencies could be arranged in much the same way,” Fima’s representative said.

Funded within the framework of the project of Development of a Crisis Management System in the Neighbouring Regions of Latvia and Lithuania at the Initiative of Borderline Cooperation, Phase II, which is funded under the Latvian-Lithuanian Cross-border Cooperation Programme as well as with financial resources from the municipal budget of Šiauliai town, the project was completed late in November.