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EAS Future Debated

Feds say they’re committed to broadcaster involvement in alerting

The discussion of the future of EAS at the 2015 NAB Show covered a range of topics.

The main points of discussion here in Las Vegas included how next generation alerting could benefit alert originators, emergency managers and broadcasters, the advantages of integrating IP-enabled technologies into the broadcast platform and broadcasters’ integral role in the future of EAS.

FCC Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau Chief David Simpson said the vision for the future of emergency alerting “will only enhance the role broadcasters will play. First responders get a lot of well-deserved credit but broadcasters are first informers.”

“We envision a public communications model in which EAS works hand-in-glove with other services,” like 911, for example, according to Simpson. Using metadata, alerts can be geo-targeted, and devices can decide if they pertain to the user or not, he said.

FEMA is committed to maintaining the public warning system and even though wireless alerts get a lot of press and attention, FEMA Assistant Administrator of the National Continuity Program Damon Penn reassured broadcast attendees that “we’re committed to EAS.”

FEMA’s “looking to leverage HD Radio, hybrid radio and NextRadio” and even the FM chip in EAS. Yet the feds are looking to broadcasters to tell them what they think broadcasting will look like 10, or 30, years from now to plan for the future EAS.

Asked about the status of the FCC’s Report & Order regarding the next national EAS test, Simpson said it’s on the eighth floor, and though he can’t predict when it would be complete, he looks forward to “being able to announce something soon.”

We’ve reported that FEMA has been prepping for the next national EAS test, which would occur sometime after the R&O is out.