Outdoor Voice System for the City of San Francisco

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Acoustic Technology Inc. (ATI) of Boston, Massachusetts has received a contract from The City of San Francisco to replace WWII-era mechanical warning sirens with a new state of the art wireless, digital system with public address capability. Funding for the outdoor warning system replacement project was provided as part of a federal Homeland Security grant.

The new warning system is being installed ahead of schedule by the city’s Department of Telecommunications and Information Services. The new units are lighter, battery-powered and weather resistant. They include a public address feature, which will allow public safety officials to make emergency announcements from one or more of the units.

ATI has designed and developed a system that will provide fail-proof emergency communications for the city. The new system includes various siren-warning tones, pre-recorded and live voice messages. A key feature of this new application allows the city’s compliance with the new FEMA guidelines CPG 1-17, which requires Public Address capability in Warning Systems. Terrorist attacks, weather-related emergencies or industry-caused disasters are events that require instant live voice notification and instructions to the public.

Live voice messaging will provide a vital role in the ability of emergency workers to instantly and accurately communicate with the population of any given area. In the event of an emergency, details given to the public as to the nature of the emergency and the instructions provided can make a life or death difference. ATI’s siren has the highest Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) in the industry, which reduces maintenance burdens substantially. The electronic siren incorporates high efficient Class D amplifiers (patented technology) which requires less power to produce high sound output. The siren uses advanced electronic reducing components needed to operate a siren.

The system is activated and monitored by a redundant radio system with several control points within the city. To protect against unauthorized activations of the system, ATI uses a robust security coding technique. Further, ATI incorporates anti-vandalism technology and practices into both the equipment and the data communications link.

Based on ATI’s acoustical studies and optimization techniques of the city and it’s unique terrain, a total of 65 high-powered sirens are being provided and placed strategically in the city.

It is expected that city officials nation-wide are monitoring threat levels as updated by the Department of Homeland Security. As shown in New York during the attacks, communication abilities during disasters are a serious issue to be corrected prior to its need.

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Susan Bailey
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