ATSC Mobile Emergency Alert System
A Guide to Implementation
The Mobile Emergency Alert System (“M-EAS”) is an exciting new broadband mobile data service that enables broadcasters to transmit emergency messages in their Mobile DTV broadcast signal. This technology is designed to enhance traditional EAS messaging by adding information that cannot be shared using the existing system.
This document is for informational purposes only and the contents are subject to change. While this implementation guide is focused on U.S. broadcasters, many aspects of the Mobile Emergency Alert System are likely to apply in other countries that have deployed ATSC broadcast technology.
It is important to point out that this is an add-on to Mobile DTV and not a replacement to EAS, which is a service provided by your traditional fixed DTV broadcast. M-EAS is an easy roll-out that does not impact your current EAS messaging services.
EAS on fixed DTV includes a text crawl that is added to the video before broadcast. M-EAS includes a text string that is transmitted as metadata and the receiver generates a banner according to the receiver’s capabilities. This is important because of the wide variety of Mobile DTV receivers. In order to be viewable on Mobile DTV receivers of all sizes and shapes, the M-EAS system lets the receiver decide how best to display the emergency messages.
In addition to the M-EAS banner the M-EAS system includes the broadcast of rich media as supplemental information. This additional information can come in many forms including rich multimedia content such as HTML pages, maps and images, and video files.
M-EAS has been adopted by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) as part of their standards and fits within every broadcaster’s existing digital television framework.
M-EAS standardization was completed in March 2013. At the beginning of this important service the system was demonstrated using a software add-on from one broadcast equipment vendor. The demonstration system was limited to pre-created (canned) alert messages and related rich media content.
The ATSC M-EAS Implementation Team (I-Team) was created to aid the industry by creating an operational model that includes realistic workflows for M-EAS. The M-EAS I-Team focused on working with industry partners to develop station work-flow models and to define the functionality of an M-EAS Content Manager. At least two companies are developing a software solution for interfacing to the station’s existing EAS receiver/processor, managing M-EAS alerts and the related sources of rich media, and then injecting the alerts and related content into the M-EAS transmission pipe.
This paper assumes that your station is already on the air with MDTV, and it addresses the deployment of M-EAS in two steps: first, enabling the capability to conduct M-EAS demonstrations with your existing MDTV setup, and second, actual deployment of M-EAS services. If your station is not already on the air with MDTV, this paper will still be useful as it will define the elements that need to be included as you activate your station.