Orlando, West Palm Beach TV stations testing M-EAS capabilities to enhance public safety as Hurricane Season approaches
LAS VEGAS, April 7, 2014 – As the 2014 Hurricane Season approaches, television stations in Florida are showing how the new emergency alert capabilities of mobile digital TV will deliver lifesaving information as video, alert banners, maps, and text alerts to mobile DTV- equipped devices.
Stations testing the enhanced alerting capabilities of the Mobile Emergency Alert System (M-EAS) are part of the Pearl partnership of broadcast companies. Pearl is a venture of eight leading TV station groups that was formed four years ago to explore and pursue new opportunities in digital media. Pearl members have a shared interest in exploring new digital opportunities, including participation in the Dyle mobile TV initiative that provides mobile TV programming to viewers in Orlando and West Palm Beach, Fla.
Orlando NBC affiliate WESH-TV (Hearst Television, Inc.) is conducting a test of the ATSC- standardized Mobile Emergency Alert System, showing how a banner announcement could easily be overlaid on mobile TV signals transmitted from the broadcaster and received on a consumer device.
Later this spring, Pearl stations in West Palm Beach – including FOX affiliate WFLX-TV Channel 29 (Raycom Media), NBC affiliate WPTV-TV Channel 5 (E.W. Scripps Company), and ABC affiliate WPBF-TV Channel 25 (Hearst Television, Inc.) – will add M-EAS capability to their existing emergency alerting equipment to enable M-EAS to be received on two types of mobile TV consumer receivers designed to bring mobile digital TV to smartphones and tablets.
“Information about fast-approaching severe weather is often one of the most critical needs of TV viewers, and M-EAS can be configured to distribute short announcements, longer audio and video instructions, maps, text and other vital information without having to rely on the cell phone network. Past experience shows that severe weather can play havoc on cell phone systems while most broadcasters with robust transmission capability stay on-air to advise viewers and report on incoming storms,” said Pat Laplatney, Vice President of Digital Media for Raycom Media, speaking on behalf of the Florida broadcasters.
Mobile EAS at the NAB Show
The full capabilities of the Mobile EAS system are on display this week at the NAB Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. M-EAS is the centerpiece of the Mobile TV Pavilion in the convention center’s North Hall. Visitors to the Mobile EAS display (N2537) can see how the system can be configured by the broadcaster to transmit timely rich media content in the event of an emergency, whether that emergency is caused by weather or other situations.
“Mobile EAS really is the best way to reach citizens at anytime. Harnessing the power of terrestrial broadcasting (and specifically Mobile Digital TV), the field-tested and proven new M-EAS technology promises to significantly enhance the nation’s emergency preparedness for the public and first responders alike,” said Convergence Services CEO John Lawson, who spearheaded M-EAS’s development with broadcasters and technology companies.
Supporters of the Mobile Emergency Alert System providing equipment for the NAB Show demonstrations include LG Electronics and its Zenith R&D laboratory, GatesAir, Monroe’s Digital Alert Systems and Triveni Digital.