AWARN Alliance Hopes ‘Beta Solution’ Will Debut by Early 2019, Says Lawson

CEDaily / Communications Daily
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

After last week’s 3-2 FCC vote authorizing voluntary deployment of ATSC 3.0 the Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN) Alliance is “finalizing our work plan for 2018, which includes a technical development component” for 3.0-capable emergency alerts, alliance Executive Director John Lawson told us. The goal is to have an AWARN “beta solution” in place by early 2019 so it can be available for stations that launch 3.0 broadcasts beginning in 2019, said Lawson.

The alliance wants to create a “software application bundle” as part of its development work that gives AWARN emergency alerts a common “look and feel,” no matter “which station broadcasts it or what type of device the consumer receives it on,” said Lawson. The bundle also needs to enable “complete interoperability from alerting authorities through the station plant to the consumer device,” he said. “A major component of our work will be integrating input from the alert originators in our AWARN Advisory Committee, as well as from social scientists who have studied human responses to alert messaging.”

The alliance will “absolutely need ubiquity across devices to be effectively deployed,” said Lawson.  That’s a big reason AWARN alerts will need to have a unique and consistent “look and feel,” he said. People need to know “it’s a real emergency when they see/hear/feel the alert,” he said. “We are making sure to enable station co-branding in alert messaging if the station chooses, but the alert message itself has to have its own ‘brand.’” That’s “one message that we’ve received loud and clear from the alerting authorities and the social scientists” for an alert to be “effective,” he said.

Lawson is “somewhat optimistic” AWARN will see “widespread receiver adoption,” he said. One

reason is that CTA is “a paying member” of the alliance and is “quite supportive,” he said. LG has been “a major supporter for years, going back to Mobile DTV days, and they’ve been a great liaison to CTA,” he said. That the alliance was a “joint petitioner” in April 2016 with CTA, NAB and America’s Public Television Stations to ask the FCC to launch the 3.0 rulemaking

and “has embraced the ‘no mandate’ policy” on 3.0 tuners also “has made cooperation possible” with receiver manufacturers, he said.

Another reason for Lawson’s encouragement is that key “middleware” players are focused on a user experience and user interface design “across stations and devices that is at least interoperable,” he said, crediting the work that So Vang, NAB vice president-advanced technology, is spearheading at NAB Pilot to build an HTML5-based “application framework.” The NAB Pilot team has been developing the “broadcast applications” for the 3.0 “commercial model, but it extends very effectively to alerting,” he said. “They are a key partner in AWARN development,” as is ATSC’s advanced emergency alerting implementation team, “also

focused on interoperability for alerting as an extension of the ATSC 3.0 standard,” he said.

— Paul Gluckman

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF WARREN COMMUNICATIONS NEWS

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