The Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN) Alliance is an international coalition of broadcasters, consumer electronics makers, B2B tech companies, and trade associations that is using the emerging technology of Next Generation Television to greatly improve public emergency messaging. We are creating a framework of best practices for Advance Emergency Alerting and Informing (AEA&I) that is based on technology innovation, synergistic workflows, and input from diverse community stakeholders.
As the severity and frequency of natural disasters increase, while manmade threats remain unabated, the AWARN Alliance is aggregating ideas and carving out new pathways for developing the next generation of public alerts and warnings. Geo-targeting, rich media, mobility, enhanced infrastructure resilience, consumer optionality, and digital interoperability are all capabilities of the new framework. The Alliance is a “coalition of the willing,” and our mission is to bring AEA&I to the world.
Why AWARN Alliance Matters
AWARN provides a unique and compelling use case for Next Gen TV. When asking the FCC to approve voluntary transmission with ATSC 3.0, commercial and public broadcasters and the CE industry made explicit promises to use the new standard for advanced emergency alerting. The AWARN Alliance is helping the industry keep those promises. And if we don’t do it voluntarily and in a way that makes sense for the industry, we risk mandates from the FCC to do it the government’s way.
AWARN also provides other major advantages. It uses the new technology to extend the role of local TV stations as “first informers.” Looking beyond the initial alert to on-going news and information in emergencies (part of the Alliance’s expanded mission) creates new avenues for delivering newsroom product to consumers on a range of devices. These new Next Gen TV services, which will be over-the-air and internet hybrids delivered through apps, can in turn attract viewers to the station’s main news coverage. And geo-targeting makes the decision to pass through alerts much easier when only viewers in harm’s way will receive the alert vs. all viewers in the whole coverage area.
AWARN also may the key to getting ATSC 3.0 receiver chips in smartphones and connected cars. Extending the reach of TV stations beyond fixed TV sets would unlock enormous economic value for broadcasters. AEA&I may be the service that leads to mobile convergence.
Finally, using Next Gen TV for advanced alerting and informing is the right thing to do. Broadcasters have the spectrum, the infrastructure, the trust of their communities, and, now, the technology to provide a whole new level of public safety for their communities. AWARN is a powerful new tool for fulfilling their public service mission, as highlighted each year in the NAB Leadership Foundation’s “Service to America” celebration.
How it Works
When fully deployed, can deliver geo-targeted, rich-media alerts to an unlimited number of enabled TVs, connected cars, and handheld devices even when cellular fails or the grid is down.
- Live TV emergency alerts: Underlying technology of digital television broadcasting can distribute multiple video and other rich media assets to an unlimited number of handheld, vehicular, or fixed receiver devices.
- Reliable, Secure and Ubiquitous.
- No bottlenecks: Reduce Unintentional Denial of Service (DoS) by bypassing bandwidth bottlenecks that overload current cellular-based systems.
- Hardened: Broadcast stations, with back-up generators and fuel reserves, typically stay on the air even when electricity to whole regions is cut.
- Non-Grid Dependent: Battery-powered mobile devices are rechargeable in-car.
- Accessible & Multilingual: T.ext-to-speech and vibrate-upon-alert for mobile devices, mean that AWARN alerts will reach those with hearing or sight limitations and millions of non-English speaking Americans.
- Geo-targeting: Utilizing geographic location information embedded in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) message, combined with the location awareness of receiving devices, alerts can be displayed on only those devices targeted.
- Encryption enabled: Simultaneously send public alerts while sending specially encrypted video and other data feeds to first responders and emergency managers.
- Interoperable with Existing Networks
- Seamless Integration: Built to the CAP standard and designed for seamless incorporation into the U.S. Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS)
John Lawson serves as Executive Director of the Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN) Alliance, an international coalition of broadcasting, consumer electronics, and professional tech companies. The Alliance is leveraging Next Generation Television (ATSC 3.0) to develop an advanced system for emergency alerting, news, and information.
He’s also President of Convergence Services, Inc, a consulting firm focused on spectrum, resilience, Next Gen TV business models, and the Intelligent Transportation Industry.
John was one of four signatories to the original Joint Petition that led to FCC approval of ATSC 3.0 transmission in 2017. John served on FEMA’s National Advisory Council IPAWS Subcommittee (2017-2018) and graduated from FEMA’s Emergency Management Executive Academy (2018). He was an expert panelist at the White House Earthquake Resilience Summit in 2016 and has served on three FCC emergency communications advisory committees.
John began his work on advanced alerting while CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations during the 9/11 attacks. He was Executive VP of ION Media Networks and Executive Director of the Mobile500 Alliance. Board service includes the National Association of Broadcasters, the Open Mobile Video Coalition, and Senior Warden of Historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia.
His awards include the Individual Technology Leadership Award from TV of Tomorrow in 2018 and the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers Award from CES in 2008. John earned BA and MA degrees in International Studies at the University of South Carolina.