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FEMA Considers the Future of Alerting

Advanced EAS technology may be feasible, address current problems

An announcement from the Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA indicates that its Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Division is looking into the feasibility of an advanced emergency alert system.

“FEMA is committed to working with the private sector to examine and improve future alerts and warnings,” said Acting Assistant Administrator for National Continuity Programs Roger Stone in the announcement. “New systems could someday include pictures and video as part of the advanced alert and warning information provided to the general public.”

Additionally, the IPAWS release says the new technology would address the issue of multilingual emergency alerts.

The Advanced Warning And Response Network, developed as part of the digital television broadcast system ATSC 3.0 standard, is among the new technologies being evaluated. According to FEMA, the IPAWS Lab testing at the Joint Interoperability Test Command in Indian Head, Md., will explore the feasibility and operational deployment of AWARN within the IPAWS suite of technologies in a secure environment.

AWARN senior adviser and President of Convergence Services Inc. John Lawson said initial FEMA testing with first-generation technology lays the groundwork for further testing of the advanced alerting system as the ATSC 3.0 standard process proceeds over the next year.

Lawson also called broadcast Advanced Emergency Alerting “a major addition to FEMA’s ‘network of networks’ for public safety communications,” according to a release.

AWARN is supported by GatesAir, LG Electronics (and its U.S. R&D subsidiary Zenith), Digital Alert Systems, Monroe Electronics, Triveni Digital, NAB Labs, Capital Broadcasting, PBS, Convergence Services, among others.