The author is executive vice president of Global Security Systems.
JACKSON, Miss. — In 2010, Global Security Systems completed a Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded study conducted by Northrop Grumman Corp. that confirmed the effectiveness of FM radio-based alerts and warnings provided by Alert FM using the Audemat FMB80 RBDS/RDS encoder.
The Alert FM system has standardized on the FMB80 to build its switchless emergency alerting system. The resulting system uses the Radio Broadcast Data Service FM-subcarrier technology to deliver up to 240-character text messages to any electronic device (including mobile devices) with Alert FM software and an enabled FM radio receiver chip.
We approached Audemat as we knew they were considered quite the experts in the field of RBDS. They proposed the FMB80 to us and we were convinced at once. The unit not only complies with the worldwide RDS/RBDS standards, it supports the broadcast of all data groups and features and we can connect to every unit in the field using satellite delivered TCP/IP connectivity. More than 45 million people in 15 states now have access to Alert FM technology thanks to the Audemat FMB80.
The FMB80 is best known for enabling radio stations to display information such as song titles and artist information but our success shows that it can also be used in many other applications. Together, the FMB80 RDS encoder and the Alert FM software allow rapid dissemination of emergency alert messages over the existing nationwide and redundant FM radio infrastructure to any audience based on geographic or organizational groupings. FM-enabled devices in a single school, a football arena or the entire country can be targeted.
Plus, in times of disaster when cellular networks become overloaded, FM radio’s single-point to multiple-point transmission assures the delivery of critical information to a vast number of FM-enabled devices simultaneously. In addition, Alert FM “wakes up” the FM-enabled device when an emergency alert message is delivered.
Using the FMB80, the Alert FM system supports a satellite-delivered, Common Alerting Protocol-compliant solution capable of delivering both audio and data feeds to radio broadcasters. The encoder is powerful enough to query the Alert FM satellite receivers at each broadcast location and deliver critical performance data back to the central operations point.
To prove the viability of the Alert FM system and the FMB80 RDS platform, a real-world study was conducted featuring a continuous working demonstration over a three-month period and across three locales: a college campus; four counties spread across two states; and a larger region. The structured live demonstrations tested the effectiveness of Alert FM by activating receivers, adhering to CAP requirements, implementing geotargeting exercises and executing an all-clear wrap. Following the operational test, the study surveyed alert originators, radio broadcasters and test users who were all more than satisfied with the results.
Now, state broadcast associations from Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, and Tennessee along with radio groups K-Love, Air1, Commonwealth Broadcasting and the Cromwell Group are using Audemat’s FMB80 to support Alert FM for emergency alert messages in their states and markets. Alert FM has been implemented at the university, state, county and multicounty levels.
For information, contact Chris Poulain at WorldCast Systems in Florida at (305) 249-3100 or visit www.worldcastsystems.com.
Radio World publishes User Reports on products in various equipment classes throughout the year to help potential buyers understand why a colleague made a given equipment choice. These are unpaid testimonials by users who have already purchased the gear. A Radio World Product Evaluation, by contrast, is a freelance article by a paid reviewer who typically receives a demo loaner.