60 sirens to sound warning of tsunami

By Emma Edwards

An Auckland-based company has been selected as the tsunami siren provider for the Tauranga region.

Following weeks of deliberation , Meerkat Alert Systems has won the tender to become the official installer of the emergency tsunami sirens for Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, and are now in the engineering and planning process.

The sirens are expected to be completed and installed in the Tauranga region by the end of the year.

Meerkat Alert Systems have installed sirens in Auckland, Rodney, Christchurch, Timaru and Northland.

"It falls into step with what other parts of New Zealand are doing" City Engineer, Howard Severinsen said.

"They have installed most of New Zealand's tsunami systems, and their technical submission were convincing.

"We have been up to Omaha Beach, where they have sirens installed. They test them twice a year and the public accepted it and understood the noise."

Meerkat Alert Systems will install 60 sirens across Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, and in the low-lying suburbs of Tauranga, including Maungatapu and Otumoetai.

Each siren is a modern version of the traditional air-raid siren - with each siren installed on a tall pole with two to four speakers all pointed in different directions for maximum sound coverage.

Each speaker will have a decibel level of 134 - louder than a fire siren.

Meerkat Alert Systems is working with the council to ensure the noise volume meets a reasonable level of warning in a residential area.

"The closer you are to the speakers the louder they are" Mr Severinsen said. "Then we push that sound out to 70 decibels. It is considered to be the limit of what would be considered a reasonable level of warning."

While the type of noise has yet to be determined, each siren will convey three different noises for three different signals.

"It all depends on what Tauranga City Council chooses," Meerkat Alert Systems CEO Wilfried Roding said.

"This system will generate any sound you want - different councils use different sounds."

The first alert will indicate a serious event has happened, and the public need to be alert for further news, the second is for an emergency and evacuation, and the third is an all-clear.

Mr Roding is also working with the council to ensure the sirens are effective in all stages of emergency.

"They are activated by a scada system, a computerised system that allows the sirens to be activated by a remote or by a cellphone, internet or manually," he said.

"They will also be backed up with a battery system, to prevent failure during a powercut.

"You need to ensure that they work, even if there is no electricity supply."

Meerkat Alert Systems expect to complete their planning process in the immediate future, after obtaining resource consents and building approvals.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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