Safety Cast Gets Dissed

Yesterday the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology dismissed a wacky scheme that would have equipped police cars, school buses and other vehicles with broadband, low-power AM and FM transmitters. Safety Cast’s Interceptorâ„¢ technology would’ve allowed these vehicles to flood all AM and FM channels within a quarter-mile with emergency bulletins and information.
After granting, scuttling, and resurrecting Safety Cast’s experimental license in June, the FCC finally decided to open up the whole issue for some public comment, the deadline for which was today. But the FCC’s dismissal without prejudice of Safety Cast’s application seems to put the whole matter to rest – lights and sirens will have to do.
Somebody did file comments on the Safety Cast scheme, though: James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia strongly objected to it. JMU holds the license to NPR affiliate WMRA and its network of FM translator stations. In a 16-page letter with exhibits, WMRA Engineering Director William D. Fawcett ravages the Safety Cast scheme as “fatally flawed both in concept and in application.”
Of all the problems it would cause, the most humorous Fawcett notes is the potential for a nearby Interceptorâ„¢-equipped cop car to inadvertently hijack FM translator stations being fed by weak signals: “Needless to say, any Safety Cast jamming transmissions received by this, or hundreds of other licensed repeater installations, would be simultaneously re-broadcast to a city-wide audience. Imagine the confusion that would result.”