International Radio for Disaster Relief (IRDR)

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June 20, 2016 by OH6001SWL

The IRDR (International Radio for Disaster Relief) project was founded to identify and select dedicated frequency channels, completely free from interference, and to have them assigned under the Article 5 of the Radio Regulations (RR) of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The project is currently being implemented at the HFCC (High Frequency Co-ordination Conference), ASBU (Arab States Broadcasting Union) and ABU (Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union) groups. Several frequencies, and their adjacent channels, have been selected and have been made available around the clock and on global basis.


Shortwave radio was by far the most widely used means of distribution of international broadcasting only a couple of decades ago. In contrast with the rest of the radio spectrum, no acceptable method of assigning frequencies has ever been developed since the discovery of shortwave propagation in the 1920s. The unacceptable level of mutual interference among stations, and an improved climate after the end of the Cold War led to the development of global co-ordination HFCC (High Frequency Co-ordination Conference).

The HFCC is a non-governmental, non-profit association and is registered as a regional co-ordination group with the Radiocommunication Sector of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R). It is also a Sector Member of the ITU-R. The HFCC manages and coordinates global databases of international shortwave broadcasting, by providing tools and services to its Members for the resolution or minimisation of instances of mutual interference among shortwave transmissions.

Aim of the IRDR project:

Because shortwave radio has always been associated with its potential of being a communication tool in emergencies, this use of shortwave radio is still very much present among amateur radio enthusiasts. Amateur radio provides a means of communication on shortwaves and other frequencies “when all else fails”.

But although the life-saving role of radio broadcasting is widely recognised by the public, and confirmed by surveys conducted after recent disasters – and even acknowledged by world leaders – no concrete projects have been ever designed and no regulatory framework has been developed.

Furthermore in contrast to amateur radio the huge technical potential of international shortwave broadcasters that operates transmitter facilities tens, or hundred times, more powerful than those of amateur radio, remains almost unused in emergencies.

That is why the HFCC in co-operation with the ASBU and ABU are working on the IRDR project that is based on the system of online co-ordination of frequencies managed by the HFCC in accordance with International Radio Regulations.

The purpose of the IRDR project is to offer to the world community a global platform for a wireless radio service to audiences in disaster and post-disaster situations when local and even regional communication and information networks are destroyed or overloaded and the population affected by the disaster suffers from an information blackout.

The distribution of radio content has become more fragmented with the advent of new – mainly digital – technologies, but the role of shortwave broadcasting as “crisis radio” was again identified during recent disasters. International broadcasters and their listeners have been aware of the unique property of shortwaves. Shortwave radio is capable of covering all world regions and therefore its implementation for disaster risk reduction and mitigation needs a co-ordinated system. The present proposal sets out the groundwork for a project of participating broadcasters, technical specialists and frequency managers.

External links / Sources:
– ITU Radiocommunication Study Groups, Source: Annex 16 to Document 6A/264, Subject: Question ITU-R 118-1/6, Document 6A/294-E, 3 October 2013

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