Washington, D.C., September 21, 2016 – This week’s use of a 90-character Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) to help catch the suspect in the recent New York and New Jersey bombing cases is an example of how new technology can be utilized to improve public alerting.
Wireless carriers have balked at including photos and active links to the Internet because of bandwidth constraints, but another solution is coming, subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission.
The Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN), under development by television broadcasters and tech companies, will give consumers not only text, but photos, video, maps, and links for notifying authorities. It’s designed to reach smart TV’s, tablets, and future smartphones independently of the cellular networks.
“AWARN will give consumers a whole new level of information at their fingertips. In a situation like the recent bombings, AWARN will deliver not only text, but also the photo of the suspect, surveillance video, evacuation routes, hospital wait times, and many other forms of rich-media content,” said John Lawson, executive director of the AWARN Alliance, a coalition of major television station groups and technology companies that is developing the new alerting system.
AWARN will utilize the nation’s television airwaves and leverage capabilities that are designed into the coming “Next Generation Television” technical standard, also known as ATSC 3.0.
The Alliance has joined other groups in petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to approve the voluntary use of the Next Gen TV standard by local TV stations.
“AWARN also will deliver multilingual and accessible alerts, plus active links to social media and reporting to authorities,” Lawson said. “It’s a major upgrade to alerting, but we need the FCC to give us their permission to use the underlying technology.”
Contact: John Lawson, [email protected], office: 703.347.7070, mobile: 202.302-1654