AWARN Could Save Lives in Kansas Twisters

ajit-pai-1Addressing the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Convention on Oct. 10, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai highlighted the importance of Advanced Emergency Alerting services and ATSC 3.0 Next Gen TV.  Commissioner Pai grew up in Parsons, Kansas:

“There’s no dispute that ATSC 3.0 will let broadcasters offer better service to the American people. Viewers will easily be able to watch over-the-air programming on mobile devices. Picture quality will improve with 4K transmissions. Accurate sound localization and customizable sound mixes will produce an immersive audio experience. And broadcasters will be able to provide advanced emergency alerts with localized information and more data.

That last point is especially important for a state like Kansas. As you know, Kansas lies at the heart of Tornado Alley. More tornadoes touch down here than in any other state but Texas. In the average year, there are over 90 of them. 

These twisters can be deadly and cause tremendous damage. In 2007, an EF-5 tornado hit Greensburg, destroying 95 percent of the town and killing 11 people. And in Parsons in 2000, an EF-3 tornado destroyed 100 homes, several downtown businesses, and even the police department’s headquarters, causing over $75 million in damage. 

Obviously, tornadoes move fast. Information needs to move fast, too, for those in a twister’s path. That’s where the next-generation broadcast standard can help. With ATSC 3.0, televisions could get emergency alerts even when they’re turned off. When that happens, the television can “wake up” to notify people of the emergency and supply vital, potentially life-saving information.

It’ll also be possible to tailor emergency alerts to specific geographic areas. That could help save lives, because when it comes to a tornado, a few miles can make a big difference. Moreover, ATSC 3.0 will enable enhanced datacasting that should be helpful to law enforcement and first responders, especially in the immediate aftermath of a storm….

My position is clear: Let’s allow broadcasters who wish to move forward with ATSC 3.0 pursue this pro-consumer, pro-public safety path as quickly as possible.”

The son of immigrants from India, Commissioner Ajit Pai grew up in Parsons, Kansas. He now lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife and two children.

Commissioner Pai graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1994 and from the University of Chicago Law School in 1997, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and won the Thomas R. Mulroy Prize.

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