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Cutting Edge - TunnelAlert takes over airwaves

MATERIALS

A DIGITAL radio emergency system that can alert drivers to potential dangers in tunnels is to be installed in the UK for the first time.

RadioScape will install its TunnelAlert digital audio broadcasting device in the Rotherhithe Tunnel. The system will go live next year.

The DAB system has been developed in response to a European Union mandate following the Mont Blanc tunnel disaster. It requires tunnels over 500 m long to have an emergency broadcast system that will automatically change the in-car entertainment system to an emergency channel.

In partnership with Tyco Traffic & Transportation, RadioScape developed a system that monitors the DAB received outside the tunnel and in normal circumstances rebroadcasts the signals inside.

But when an accident occurs the device automatically relays a warning message or evacuation instructions to drivers.

The messages are swapped seamlessly, enabling real-time announcements to be made.

Les Sabel, vice president of development at RadioScape, said: 'This was a complex challenge. We have patented the techniques used to switch the external DAB broadcasts to the emergency broadcast.' David Giles, business group manager at Tyco Traffic & Transportation, said that interrupting digital radio broadcasts was far more complex than with FM signals.