January  2021 Issue  
Newsletter Index Publisher:  Information Station Specialists Subscribe to The Source
Temporary Sign to Announce Radio Signal at a Point of Vaccine Dispensing Adams County, Illinois, utilizes a solar-powered radio station with changeable message sign to inform.
Good News Takes to the Air
Radio "Inoculation Stations" inform the incoming at vaccination locations.
QUINCY, IL:  Using a designated radio frequency, Adams County Emergency Management Agency is reaching out to citizens arriving at the County’s drive-thru vaccine distribution site. John Simon, director of Emergency Management and EMS, has selected AM 1620 as the means to get initial info to those queueing up in Quincy, Illinois. Simon states that the use of radio technology frees staff for other tasks and also ensures that all arrivals receive the same, consistent, approved instructions. To encourage people to get the shot, the County wants the experience to be as efficient as possible. “It’s about the throughput rate,” says Simon. “This way we can spend less time with each car and ensure everyone receives the same information.” Jerrod Welch, Adams County Public Health Administrator adds, “This station allows my staff to focus on the individual patients that are getting their vaccines."

This radio methodology has gained traction nationally in recent weeks. One health district in Tennessee plans to run nine different radio signals simultaneously at various points of vaccine distribution (PODs).

Simon’s agency utilizes a VoiceStar System that incorporates an integral changeable message sign to direct those in the line to the 1620 frequency. The same methodology is being deployed by agencies in Birmingham, Alabama, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and Worcester County, Maryland. Other agencies employ radio systems in weatherproof cases (InfOspot and RadioSTAT), which can be transported to a site and deployed, along with quick-erect signage.

The InfOspot system is based on a design submitted by Hennepin County, Minnesota, emergency officials. Central Valley Health District in North Dakota was first in line for the initial production model in 2020. Prior to the introduction of COVID vaccines, safety officials utilized the radio systems at virus testing sites.
UCHealth Mass Vaccination Clinic at Coors Field parking lots on January 30-31
The EventCAST radio antenna was positioned on the roof of a Colorado Rockies parking structure overlooking the site.
The last week in January, Denver’s Coors Field parking lots hosted 10,000 drivers who arrived for in-car vaccination. UCHealth transmitted bilingual instructions and directions on 1630 KHz from atop the Colorado Rockies’ parking garage under a special emergency temporary license obtained by the Denver Police Department. [Listen to the broadcast.] SCL Health will replicate the event a mere mile to the northeast at the National Western Complex just off I-70 on two dates in February and March.

In March, California's Office of Emergency Services, in conjunction with Caltrans, will set up two vaccination stations using EventCAST technology -- one at Oakland on AM 1670 and one in Los Angeles on AM 1680. The English/Spanish presentations give procedural and directional information for arriving motorists at the drive-thru events.

Touchstone characteristics of these products are portability and simplicity. Each radio system can be moved as needed and thus become an asset that can be shared with other jurisdictions. The audio program can be controlled via network, by flash drive/USB or by live microphone/override, depending on how the system is optioned.

RadioSTAT, EventCAST and VoiceStar products are licensed under FCC Part 90 and have a 3-5 mile radius of coverage. The InfOspot system operates under FCC Part 15 rules and requires no license. It is adept at parking-lot sized coverage – up to 1/2 mile.
Banking on Radio to Help the Hurting 
 
Radio informs those lined up at the Spokes of Hope food distribution destination in South Carolina.
The InfOspot system has also been discovered by emergency distribution agencies such as Spokes of Hope in Little River, South Carolina, where locals often line up for miles to receive food and life-essentials. This nonprofit was instrumental in providing local assistance after Hurricane Florence flooded the homes of hundreds in the vicinity.

And churches such as Purpose Life Church in Springfield, Tennessee, have added radio to their distribution operations, as well. Says spokesman Chris Harder, “We posted signs informing people to tune to 1630 AM for instructions about how to register and to return to their vehicles until their number was called. Thanks to the radio transmitter, these were the smoothest running food handouts in the Church’s history.” The Church originally obtained the transmitter to make possible outdoor worship services for people attending in vehicles.
 
A Food Distribution Operation by Purpose Life Church for Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee
As detailed in previous issues of The Source, since the beginning of the Pandemic, schools, park and recreation departments, cemeteries and event managers have embraced radio technology as well. It’s telling that this medium, which first brought us together one hundred years ago, continues to demonstrate that it is also remarkably good at communicating with us while we are separated.
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Information Radio Stations is a generic term synonymous with Travelers Information Stations (TIS), Highway Advisory Radio Stations (HAR) / Highway Information Systems & Low Power Radio Stations (LPR). Operation of the stations is governed by FCC Part 90.242 Rules. A FCC license is required. Information Radio Stations may be fixed or portable. Subcomponents may include transmitter, antenna and ground system, digital voice player, wattmeter, cabinet with conventional or Corbin locks, lightning arrestors for RF, power and telephone lines, coaxial cable. Most stations employ black maximized antennas to discourage ice accumulation and security measures to prevent unauthorized program access. Options include synchronization, battery backup, solar power, remote programming by local, network or telco, multi-station audio distribution via RF or LAN / WAN or wireless network.