By Rick Kaplan
Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning
National Association of Broadcasters
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and mobile digital TV service provider Dyle have undertaken an exciting pilot project in Florida that will not only advance Mobile TV technology, but will also aid in the development of the Mobile Emergency Alert System (M-EAS). Through the pilot program, NAB and Dyle are providing Apple and Android accessories for Mobile TV to first responders in Florida. When used with smartphones and tablets, these accessories will provide immediate access to mobile TV broadcasts from local TV stations that are transmitting vital weather and emergency information, including live video from weather or other emergencies.
M-EAS is an additional functionality of Mobile TV, using conventional TV broadcasts enhanced with data and video to deliver robust alerts to smart phones, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices in times of disaster. Because TV transmission has proven to be superior to cell phone technology during emergencies, M-EAS can enable consistent, faster, more compelling communications when they are most needed.
In the Florida pilot, up to 100 Mobile TV devices are being provided to first responders for use during the current hurricane season. This technology should aid those first responders in doing their incredibly difficult jobs, and make citizens’ lives safer through better, more reliable alerts.
Broadcasters are particularly excited about the implications of adding M-EAS technology to the basic emergency service. Our industry has long taken seriously its role as stewards of the air waves. For decades, U.S. citizens have received important public service announcements over television, and in the future those announcements will include instantaneous updates, instructions and other vital information during emergencies thanks to M-EAS.
As we expect this pilot program to demonstrate, this important new capability can also play a big role in the enhancing the existing emergency response framework available to first responders. It will also show the importance of Mobile TV more generally to the public. More than 150 broadcasters are now on the air with some form of Mobile TV programming, and M-EAS will be an important addition.