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2019 spring report – reporting item No. 06 "Inadequate digital radio transmission causes security risks in train stations, airports and other buildings"

Apr 02, 2020

Inadequate transmission of digital radio in train stations and airports has repeatedly endangered the Federal Police. Impeded communication makes it difficult to call reinforcements and rescue units, for example.

Public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) agencies use a digital radio network covering more than 99 per cent of the German national territory according to the statements made by the Federal Agency for Public Safety Digital Radio. However, many special purpose buildings and facilities such as train stations, airports, tunnels, shopping centres, skyscrapers and sports facilities have a poor reception of digital radio. At such public and highly frequented buildings and facilities, digital broadcasting is becoming more and more important in the face of the increasing threat posed by terrorism and extremism (Munich rampage in 2016, etc).

The federal government and the federal states share the task of ensuring universal radio service across Germany. The Federal Agency for Public Safety Digital Radio has the statutory responsibility to enable, operate and maintain the safety and security of digital radio transmission. The Agency is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of the Interior and is not responsible for digital radio supply in special purpose buildings and facilities in public ownership. This task is subject to applicable federal state regulations and rules. Applicable regional cultural heritage regulations often guarantee full building conservation including obsolete analogue radio systems and make switchover to digital radio a challenge. Also federal states’ rules still require the installation of analogue radio systems. One example is the tunnel under construction at the Stuttgart 21 train station. The station is to be equipped with both analogue and digital radio. As a result, the only way out for federal PPDR agencies is to continue funding obsolete analogue radio technology while at the same time using advanced digital radio. For a decade, the two government levels have not managed to agree on a uniform legal basis to ensure a nationwide reception of digital radio services for government-owned buildings and facilities. In our view, it is not tolerable that the Federal Ministry of the Interior has not urged the federal states to agree on a uniform legal basis. A common legal framework is needed to confer to the Agency a role in equipping public buildings and facilities with digital radio.

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