Digitalradio Deutschland is advancing an effort to add emergency alerts to DAB+. Although the effort is beginning in Germany, the association aims to seek international standardization of public warning messages and functions.
The announcement came on September 1, just before the 2022 IFA consumer electronics trade fair in Berlin opened.
The public warning effort brings together broadcasters, media institutions and network operators, as well as equipment manufacturers, to develop the public warning system. The association is projecting a two- to three-year time frame for implementation, including the development of the system and international standardization.
Digitalradio Deutschland pointed to recent natural disasters, such as the severe flooding in the Ahr Valley and parts of Upper Bavaria in 2021, as well as the “tense international situation” surrounding the war in Ukraine, in explaining why a standardized public warning system for DAB+ is needed.
[Related: “The Power of Digital Radio in Emergencies”]
The DAB+ standard already includes an emergency warning feature — Alarm Announcement Switching — that can redirect DAB+ receivers to play out a predefined radio service in the event of an emergency. Once the emergency situation subsites, AAS is deactivated and receivers return to their previously selected service, according to a July 2021 WorldDAB Forum fact sheet on DAB+ emergency broadcasting.
The project will look to develop further classic warning announcements features, such as an alert tone and voice announcements, to include “waking” receivers from standby mode to deliver emergency messages. Future work will focus on accessibility, including foreign-language messages and extended text information delivered via the Journaline data application.
In a statement on its website, the WorldDAB Forum noted that the German public warning effort is in an early stage of development, but it is willing to support the project: “When these discussions have progressed further, WorldDAB will be happy to host a technical development process to help build international alignment.”
At IFA 2022, Telestar-Digital GmbH together with the Fraunhofer Institute demonstrated how the warning system works, using the new Telestar Dira M1 A and M1 Mobile radios, which made their debut at the trade fair. Fraunhofer’s Emergency Warning Functionality project has focused on developing public warning functions for DAB and DRM digital radio for several years.
Digitalradio Deutschland stated that the first devices supporting simple alarm announcements are expected to be on the market in 2023 by multiple manufacturers.
The group also plans to begin in 2023 public education efforts in coordination with federal and state governments and the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance.