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‘Active Radio Emergency Alert’ to Get Live Test on IBOC Station

WAMU, NPR and iBiquity Digital launch test program in the District of Columbia

The so-called “Active Radio Emergency Alert” service will be demonstrated live on a Washington, D.C. station transmitting an HD Radio signal.

The Active Radio Emergency Alert service is an early warning system with the capability to reach a population within the range of participating stations. Emergency notifications are transmitted to HD Radio-enabled receivers.

iBiquity Digital and NPR said WAMU(FM),Washington, D.C., will begin testing the service on April 19, in time for an April 20 “CES on the Hill” event. Nautel, SpectraRep and Sage Alerting Systems will provide equipment.

iBiquity Digital COO Jeff Jury said because the messages are being delivered digitally, Active Radio Emergency Alert will provide faster and more detailed information than traditional alert systems.

“We believe particularly that the ability to ‘wake up’ a radio while people might be sleeping or if the radio is off is a strong benefit.”

“It’s especially critical to alert those with sensory disabilities, now possible due to the new accessible digital radio services NPR has been developing,” stated Mike Starling, vice president and chief technical officer of NPR.

The HD Radio Emergency Alert broadcast protocol is compliant with the Common Alerting Protocol message definition adopted by FEMA and other emergency organizations, according to those companies involved in the demo. The HD Radio system will allow federal, state and tribal emergency agencies to notify the public of presidential directives, national security alerts, AMBER Alerts, or weather related events.

Broadcasters can use the audio and data channels of their HD Radio signal to send multilingual announcements, text alerts and image data to alert-enabled receivers. The receivers will also have the ability to “wake-up” from a sleep state to notify the public of local events.