The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has awarded total of $1 million in emergency alerting and communications grants to five public broadcasters.
Three of the five grant recipients — WSKG in Binghamton, N.Y., Maine Public Broadcasting Network and WGBH in Boston — are joint radio-television licensees. The other two grant recipients are Vegas PBS in Nevada and Twin Cities Public Television in Minnesota.
CPB says the stations will work with other public stations in their areas and also community partners to acquire or develop wireless technology to enhance their support to first responders, emergency management agencies and the public for emergency alerting purposes. Using station announcements in CAP-EAS, state and local officials will be able to send alerts and other warning information through text, audio and video to first responders and the public, including communities where citizens are less proficient in English, according to CPB.
CPB is requiring the stations to share their work and experiences with the public media system in order to increase the impact of the initiative.
Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey calls the partnership for alerting “an important use of the broadcast spectrum.”
After several natural disasters, the CPB board identified the need to expand the alerting capabilities of public stations. CPB President/CEO Pat Harrison says the grants will ensure stations will be able to more effectively warn the public with vital, potentially life-saving information when needed.
The money will go towards things like expanding alert capacity from WSKG to other public media in the region. WSKG covers 21 counties in New York state and northern Pennsylvania. WSKG is connected to the Broome County Office of Emergency Management through its Emergency Direct Link system, allowing the station to receive and broadcast emergency messages throughout their region. With CPB’s support, this relationship and capacity will be replicated by other New York public media stations with the installation of videoconferencing and codec equipment at their partner local emergency management agencies, according to CPB.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network covers Maine, as well as parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. With CPB’s support, MPBN will create a closed-circuit communications system that links the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the Maine State Police, commercial and noncommercial broadcasters, and other news providers around the state.
WGBH will use CPB funding to create a statewide emergency communications system. Using digital bandwidth at WGBH in Boston and WGBY in Springfield, CPB says this system will build on the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s infrastructure to deliver high bandwidth, reliable and secure video, audio, and other data to state agencies and first responders.