Advanced Emergency Alerts to be Unveiled at NAB Show 2017

AWARN Alliance Membership More than Doubles After One Year

Washington, D.C., April 18, 2017 – Marking its one-year anniversary, the AWARN Alliance will demonstrate what could become the future of emergency alerting in the United States and other countries at the NAB 2017 Show in Las Vegas next week.

The Advanced Warning and Response Network will leverage the powerful new features of the coming Next Generation Television technical standard, also known as ATSC 3.0, to dramatically upgrade the content, pervasiveness, and reliability of disaster warning and recovery information.

“Geo-targeted, rich media AWARN alerts will give people a whole new level of life-saving information, literally at their fingertips. AWARN has the ability to deliver not only text, but photos, surveillance video, storm tracks, plume models, evacuation routes, shelter-in-place instructions, hospital wait times, power outages, and many other forms of vital content,” said AWARN Alliance Executive Director John Lawson.

These capabilities will far exceed emergency systems available to the American public today, primarily the Emergency Alert System (EAS), rooted in the Cold War, with its familiar tones and bars for radio and television, and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) text messages, currently limited to 90 characters, distributed by wireless carriers. “Because of the flexibility of ATSC 3.0, AWARN can easily transmit multilingual and accessible media as well,” Lawson said.

AWARN will leverage other powerful features of Next Generation Television, including the ability to “wake up” devices, robust indoor and mobile reception, personalization, and integration with hybrid networks. AWARN alerts can also be delivered to mobile devices even if the cellular network is overloaded or the electric grid is down.

AWARN Alliance Expands

The AWARN Alliance is a coalition of commercial and public broadcasters, consumer electronics and broadcast technology companies, national trade groups, and service providers who have come together to develop and deploy AWARN. Membership in the Alliance has more than doubled since its founding just one year ago, adding public broadcasters, national groups, tech companies, and law firms.

The Alliance, along with the Consumer Technology Association, the National Association of Broadcasters, and America’s Public Televisions Stations, is a signatory to the April 2016 “joint petition” to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting rules to allow broadcasters to begin transmitting in the ATSC 3.0 standard on a voluntary basis. The FCC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for that purpose on February 23 of this year.

Advanced Alert Demonstrations Using Next Generation Television

A key goal of the Alliance is to develop models that can be adopted seamlessly as ATSC 3.0 is launched by early adopter stations in 2018. The Alliance is making steady progress toward that goal, including the demonstrations at the NAB Show in Las Vegas next week:

  • AMBER: With the support of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, WJLA in Arlington, Virginia, and LG Electronics and its Zenith affiliate, the Alliance has produced an advanced AMBER alert demo.
  • Tornado: With ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, Alabama and LG/Zenith, the Alliance has produced a tornado warning based on the real events of April 27, 2011, a ‘super outbreak’ that claimed more than 250 lives in the Birmingham-Tuscaloosa area of Alabama.
  • Chemical spill: And with WJLA, LG/Zenith, and Digital Alert Systems, the Alliance has produced a “HazMat” chemical spill alert, loosely based on the May 2016 CSX train derailment in Northeast Washington, DC.

Triveni Digital also supported production of each demo. Currently WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina, with the support of UNC-TV in Chapel Hill, is producing an active shooter alert that includes encrypted content for first responders.

Demos and Meeting at NAB Show 2017

The three prototypes encoded by LG for ATSC 3.0 can be viewed at the Next-Gen TV Hub, booth L11, in the Grand Lobby of Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

To test and demonstrate broadcasters’ flexibility in implementing advanced alerting, NAB PILOT has re-encoded two of the alerts as HTML5 apps that can be broadcast through the ATSC 3.0 signal and received on tablets via a home gateway device. Those demos can be viewed at Futures Park in NAB PILOT booth N1838FP in North Hall.

The Alliance is also hosting an executive breakfast on Wednesday, April 26 from 8-9 am PT in Westgate Conference Rooms 1-2 that focuses on synergies between AWARN alerts and Next Gen TV business models. Contact AWARN Alliance Deputy Director Fiona James at [email protected] to register.

Members (Including Key Subsidiaries) of the AWARN Alliance, as of April 18, 2017

Advanced Emergency Alerting Implementation Team, Airwavz, America’s Public Television Stations, Arland Communications, Convergence Services, Inc., Capitol Broadcasting Company/WRAL, Digital Alert Systems, DigiCap USA, the Interactive Television Alliance, Kentucky Educational Television, KPBS/California State University-San Diego, LG Electronics, Lokita Solutions, MHz Networks, Monroe Electronics, National Association of Broadcasters, ONE Media, Pearl TV (joint venture of eight of the largest TV station groups), Sinclair Broadcast Group, Triveni Digital, UNC-TV, Vegas PBS, Wiley Rein LLP, WKAR/Michigan State University, WNET/Thirteen, and Zenith Electronics.

Advanced Alerting Advisory Committee Planned

The AWARN Alliance also is forming an Advanced Alerting Advisory Committee. “The Alliance has consulted extensively with public safety organizations in producing the first demonstration alerts. To convene more structured user groups as template design moves forward, we are in active discussions with multiple alert originator organizations to form the advisory committee,” said AWARN Alliance Deputy Director Fiona James.

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Contact: John Lawson
AWARN Alliance
Office +1 (703) 347-7070
Mobile +1 (202) 302-1654
[email protected]

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