As it continues to promote over-the-air listening via FM capability in smartphones, NextRadio is putting increased emphasis on radio as a reliable source of emergency information even when cell towers fail and networks are overloaded.
To demonstrate the importance of an activated FM chip on a smartphone, NextRadio said it tracked customers’ usage patterns during six major weather events in 2016. The data captured by the app, NextRadio says, gives it the ability to track how listeners tune in and move during a weather emergency. The data show how users relocate from unsafe areas to safe zones, then move back home again. The information also reveals listening patterns in the days leading up to, and the day of, a weather event, and listening levels return to normal as people recover from the incident.
Results are summarized in a white paper that NextRadio released, describing specific emergencies such as Hurricane Hermine.
The company argues that the value of NextRadio during weather events can be augmented through its partnership with Global Security Systems to provide ALERT-FM emergency messages in the app’s newsfeed. This feature enables users to see emergency messages and hear over-the-air updates. Finally, NextRadio says the data in its white paper makes a strong case for cell carriers enabling the FM chip in customers’ smartphones.
With this information, NextRadio advocates that stations urge listeners to download the NextRadio app, as well as sign up for emergency alerts inside the app. They also urge broadcasters to partner with local emergency entities to educate the public about disaster preparedness and safety, including the fact that FM radio is a reliable source of emergency information, even as cell carriers and the internet fail.