The Government of Catalonia has designed the radio-electric governance policy, the main aim of which is to coordinate Government policies for electronic communications and the environment, in order to improve access to wireless communication networks for the public in general and their socioeconomic activities in particular, thus promoting sufficient, organised and sustainable implementation, that is safe for the environment and people.
To achieve this goal, the Catalan Government has undertaken various projects in recent years, with the aim of providing citizens with objective information on mobile telephony and electromagnetic fields. The projects include the SMRF network of monitoring equipment for the continuous measurement of electromagnetic field levels, and the GECODIT project to implement consensus methodologies in deploying mobile telephony infrastructure in an urban environment.
Portable electromagnetic field level measuring devices
The 50 portable electromagnetic field level measuring devices acquired and provided to 50 public bodies (mainly town councils) in Catalonia measure frequency bands of 100 kHz to 8 GHz.
The measurements taken with the portable devices are grouped into files, related to the type of site (types of action) where the measurements were made: nurseries, pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, hospitals, and more.
In general, the files include at least the measurements taken outside and inside the site.
The levels measured indoors are generally lower than the levels measured outdoors, as walls and other structures at the site greatly weaken the electromagnetic field level.
As can be seen on the radio-electric governance website (governancaradioelectrica.gencat.cat), the levels measured with the portable devices are much lower than the maximum regulatory levels.
The electromagnetic field level monitoring equipment
Since the SMRF network was enlarged with 100 monitoring devices through LIFE co-funding, it now consists of 236 monitoring devices, which measure only the electromagnetic field levels in current mobile telephone frequency bands: 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz.
The monitoring devices continuosly mesure the level of electromagnetic field and send remotely these levels to a control centre owned by the Government of Catalonia.
Of the 100 additional devices acquired through LIFE co-funding:
- 46 measure exclusively the electromagnetic field level at current mobile phone frequency bands: 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz.
- 47 measure the electromagnetic field level of frequency bands of 100 kHz to 8 GHz.
- 7 measure the electric and magnetic field level from high-voltage power cables.
As can be seen on the radio-electric governance website (governancaradioelectrica.gencat.cat), the levels measured with the monitoring equipment are much lower than the maximum regulatory levels.
To ensure electromagnetic fields are below the maximum levels permitted by current regulations, Catalonia has the largest network of monitoring equipment in the world, the SMRF (Radiofrequency Monitoring System) network, with over 300 monitoring devices installed in 185 municipalities in Catalonia.
The levels measured by the SMRF monitoring equipment are available at the website governancaradioelectrica.gencat.cat.
Radio-electric governance website
The radio-electric governance website (governancaradioelectrica.gencat.cat) is divided into two clearly separate sections: one section is the geographic information system (GIS) and the other is the information section.
- GIS section: This provides a map of the sites at which electromagnetic field level measurements are taken by both the SMRF network monitoring equipment and the portable devices of the councils.
The measurements can be viewed for the whole of Catalonia, by region, municipality, type of measurement (monitoring equipment or portable device) or the type of location where the measurements were taken with the portable device (types of action).
- Monitoring equipment
The sites of the different monitoring devices are shown by black icons. Clicking directly on the monitoring device icon (or selecting the 'Detail' button associated with a monitoring device in the 'Results' tab) shows the information on the monitoring device: address and zoom to the site, value of the latest measurement and graph with the levels measured over the last 30 days. You can also show the levels from an earlier period and generate reports on the levels shown in the figure.
- Measurements with portable devices
The measurements made with the portable devices are grouped into data files, each data file includes one or more measurements (normally indoor and outdoor measurements) performed at one of the so-called sensitive sites. Order CTE/23/2002 classifies sensitive sites as: education centres (nurseries, pre-schools and primary schools and compulsory secondary education centres), health centres (primary care centres and hospitals), nursing and care homes and public parks. The data files can also be of type: private homesand others. Each of these different types of data file has an associated icon colour, shown on the map.
Clicking on the data file icon on the map (or selecting the 'Detail' button associated with a file in the 'Results' tab) shows the file information: data file location icons and measurements taken (green for outdoor and brown for indoor), a summary of the levels measured and the list of measurements, with the level associated with each.
- Information section: It contains different sections on mobile telephony and electromagnetic fields:
o Project: this section gives information about the project Radio-electric Governance.
o Exposure: an interactive page explains how mobile telephony works, what electromagnetic fields are and the safety around mobile telephony antennae.o Questions: this section provides answers to the most frequently asked questions on mobile telephony and electromagnetic fields.
o Regulations: different documents on current regulations in Catalonia for maximum electromagnetic field exposure levels for the general public are given.
o IReports: the main international studies analysing possible links between electromagnetic fields and harmful health effects are given.
In 2009, the Catalan Government applied for co-funding from the European Commission, through the LIFE instrument, for its project Radio-electric Governance: Environment and Electronic Communications Policies for Deployment of Radiocom Infrastructures.
In 2010, the European Commission approved co-funding of the project for 4 years (2010-2014), with project code LIFE09 ES/ENV/000505.
The main actions in this project are:
- The acquisition of 100 electromagnetic field level monitoring devices, to extend the SMRF network.
- The acquisition of 50 portable electromagnetic field level measuring devices to transfer them to the 50 local councils in Catalonia, in order to measure levels in their municipalities.
- The creation of a radio-electric governance website where the public can view sites and levels measured by SMRF network monitoring equipment and the portable devices provided to the towns, as well as access extensive information on mobile telephony, electromagnetic fields, regulations, scientific reports and FAQs.
- Creation of a new control centre for the SMRF network.
List of councils participating in the Radio-electric Governance project:
- 100 monitoring devices: Barcelona (10), Tarragona (9), Girona (10), Lleida (7), l'Hospitalet de Llobregat (10), Sabadell (10), Terrassa (9), Mataró (10), Badalona (9), Sant Cugat del Vallès (10), Alpicat (2), Almacelles (1), Ripollet (1), Caldes de Montbui (1) and Vallromanes (1).
- 50 portable measuring devices:
19 municipalities had portable equipment for the duration of the project until 30 June 2015:
- Barcelona, Tarragona, Girona, l'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Sabadell, Terrassa, Mataró, Badalona, Amposta, el Vendrell, Figueres, Igualada, Manresa, Reus, Tortosa, Vic, Vilafranca del Penedès, Vilanova i la Geltrú and Granollers.
28 others municipalities had portable equipment since the beginning of the project until mid-2014:
- Balaguer, Banyoles, Berga, Cervera, el Pont de Suert, Gandesa, la Seu d'Urgell, l'Aldea, les Borges Blanques, Molins de Rei, Montblanc, Móra d'Ebre, Olot, Puigcerdà, Ripoll, Salou, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Sant Pere de Ribes, Sant Quirze del Vallès, Santa Cristina d'Aro, Solsona, Sort, Tàrrega, Tossa de Mar, Tremp, Vielha e Mijaran, el Consell Comarcal del Pla d'Urgell and el Consell Comarcal del Priorat.
And, finally, 27 others municipalities had portable equipment since mid-2014 until 30 June 2015:
- Arenys de Mar, Blanes, Caldes de Montbui, Cambrils, Castelldefels, Cornellà de Llobregat, la Bisbal d'Empordà, l'Escala, Mollet del Vallès, Palafrugell, Ripollet, Sant Adrià del Besòs, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Sant Pol de Mar, Sant Vicenç dels Horts, Santa Coloma de Farners, Sitges, Viladecans, el Prat de Llobregat, Esplugues de Llobregat, el Consell Comarcal de l'Alt Camp, el Consell Comarcal del Gironès, el Consell Comarcal de l'Alt Urgell, el Consell Comarcal del Segrià, el Consell Comarcal de la Garrotxa y el Conselh Generau d'Aran.
Additionally, the Catalan Rangers Corps had between 3 and 6 portable equipment.
Report summary of the project
To close the project, a summary report has been done. This report shows the achievements of the project, analyzes the results and considers, as a conclusion, some recommendations to ensure that the deployment of Mobile phone antennae is sufficient, organised and respects both people and the environment.
LIFE project co-financing Final Report
LIFE project co-financing Final Report from 1st September 2010 until 30th September 2015 can be consulted here.