Venice, Italy - While it's well known that the city of Venice's transport infrastructure relies heavily on its canals, not many people are aware of the sometimes tenuous relationship Mother Nature has on this arrangement. The canals, which carry thousands of gondolas, launches, barges and water buses daily, are subject to tidal conditions and therefore constantly changing.
High tide levels mean reduced headroom under bridges, and the city's transportation often needs to be re-routed. When pavements and other pedestrian areas disappear under water, raised walkways may need to be erected. The city's population and its large number of commuters are used to these changes, but accurate, timely information about the tides is important to keep daily life on track.
To that end, a powerful audio system based around Community R-Series loudspeakers has been installed as part of a flood warning system for the city of Venice. Located in fifteen bell-towers in central Venice and at a further fifteen locations on outlying islands, the loudspeakers play a series of alert and musical tones that inform residents of the coming tidal levels, so that they can plan accordingly. The system, supplied by Prase Engineering, was specified by audio consultant Ing. Umberto Nicolao and installed by Verona-based S.T.A.S.
The loudspeaker system is one of many ways the city of Venice's Previsioni E Segnalazioni Maree (Tidal Forecasting and Signalling Centre) is utilizing technology to keep city residents and working commuters informed. (The city also maintains a website, a toll-free phone line, touchscreen information kiosks, and even a smartphone app.) An old siren-based audio system had also been used for many years but it was increasingly less reliable, due to mechanical deterioration, and it could only broadcast one alert signal.
The new multi-tone audio system uses a specially designed version of Community's R.5 loudspeaker, designed precisely for the power, frequency response and dispersion required. Size was also critical in being able to deliver and mount the loudspeakers in some of the ancient towers where they were to be deployed. And of course, Community's legendary weather resistance was also a factor in selecting the R-Series.
This new approach to a centuries-old challenge was a custom project for city planners, as well as the system designers, installers and for Community. Its implementation has already made a tremendous impact on the daily flow of traffic around this busy city, improving the lives of commuters and residents alike.
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