Sorting out the Alerts: Mobile EAS Implementation Team Studying Station Operations

By Jay Adrick, Harris Broadcast

Chair of the Mobile Emergency Alert System Implementation Team, Advanced Television Systems Committee

With the standard adopted for the Mobile Emergency Alert System, work now turns to the “ATSC M-EAS Implementation Team” to fill in the gaps between what stations are transmitting, how the alerts are inserted into the broadcast steam, and what happens on receiving devices that pick up the Mobile EAS transmissions.

The Mobile EAS standard is all about transmission of emergency alerts.  But there’s an additional process involved in how alerts are received, processed, and filtered.  Most people may not realize that there are more than 100 different types of weather alerts, for example.  Someone, or some department, at the station has to determine what does and what doesn’t go out on-the-air to viewers.  We’ve learned a lot about the importance of the local newsroom and station meteorologists, which are usually the broadcast decision-makers on emergency matters.

Thus far, the ATSC M-EAS Implementation Team has focused most recently on other Emergency Alert System devices and their role in the emergency-preparedness ecosystem. That includes identifying the types of alerts that stations are likely to send via M-EAS, determining the types and sources of rich media that would be associated with each of the alert types, and better understanding how stations treat alert messaging and determine what alerts are transmitted to viewers.

What’s more, efforts are underway now to bring Mobile-EAS signaling to stations in North Carolina, Kentucky, and the Washington, D.C. market.

The ATSC M-EAS Implementation Team is also working on information that will be useful for development of a Mobile EAS “content manager,” and we’re hoping that at least two or three companies might end up building equipment to help stations determine what to transmit.  Equipping stations in hurricane-prone and tornado-prone areas with Mobile EAS capability will help us understand how the technology can be expanded to reach more stations.

If you’re interested in participating in the Mobile EAS Implementation Team, contact ATSC President Mark Richer ([email protected]) for more information.

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