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ATSC 3.0 Emergency Alert System Launches in South Korea

SEOUL—The global development of ATSC 3.0 continues with an announcement over the weekend that South Korea has launched a UHD Emergency Alert Service that is based on ATSC 3.0 technology. The Korean Ministry of Information and Communication made the announcement during the 2019 Broadcast Industry Promotion Week.

The new system uses a terrestrial UHD broadcast network to deliver disaster related information, but at this time it will work in tandem, not as a replacement, for Korea’s existing telecom-based alert system. The Korea IT Times reports that the addition of ATSC 3.0 signals is meant to enhance the country’s alerting process by offering backup and covering “blind spots” not covered by telecom signals.

The EAS will be placed in bus, subway and multi-use facilities with large outdoor display screens. The system also has voice guidance based on text-to-speech technology to support hearing impaired citizens, as well as beacons and vibrometers for the visually impaired.

According to BusinessKorea, ATSC 3.0 receivers and displays were activated in bus and subway facilities in Seoul on the day of the announcement. There are plans to expand the new emergency service to other cities by 2021 and to be nationwide in 2022.

“These alert services, based on ATSC 3.0 next-generation broadcasting and communications technology, are expected to change the paradigm of information transmission,” Korea IT Times reported. “The Ministry of Science and ICT is planning to overcome the limitations of the current emergency alert and broadcasting services by refining the initial pilot services in cooperation with the Korea Communications Commission, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety and the Korea Meteorological Administration.”

“We applaud our colleagues in South Korea for their continued leadership in ATSC 3.0 deployment and, now, their activation of the UHD Emergency Alert Service," said John Lawson, AWARN Alliance's executive director. “Their deployment in Seoul of an end-to-end use case from the alert originator, to TV station transmission, to dedicated receivers on outdoor displays is really impressive. It’s a powerful, real-world implementation of Next Gen TV alerting—the first in the world.

“One of AWARN’s founding members, LG Electronics, remains an invaluable bridge for us to developments in South Korea. The AWARN Alliance has a memorandum of understanding with RAPA, the South Korean trade development organization, for a global alliance around advanced alerting. And we continue our dialogue with DigiCAP and other Korean tech companies about ways to work together. A leading possibility is interoperability testing with AWARN Alliance member companies and organizations.

“On our end, we focused on user experience (UX) development with emergency managers last year, and this year we’ve launched our initiative with TV news thought leaders to develop a framework for on-going emergency news and information. Consumer UX testing is also on our agenda. And our members continue their tech development for advanced alerting. I hope 2020 is the year we can put it all together and launch AWARN alerting on some stations here in the U.S. The leadership from our Korean colleagues sets a benchmark for all of us.”

Korea’s UHD Emergency Alert Service will be the center of a panel discussion during the 2019 NAB Show New York—“The Nationwide ATSC 3.0 Emergency Alert Service Now Being Built in Korea.” Peter Han, president and CEO of DigiCAP, who worked as a technology supplier for the EAS project, will participate in the panel with Lawson and Joonyoung Park, DigiCAP’s vice president and Fellow. The panel will take place on Oct. 17 during the conference.

“It's an extremely timely opportunity to learn more about the Korean launch and compare notes with our AWARN timetable," said Lawson.

For a comprehensive source of TV Technology’s ATSC 3.0 coverage, see ourATSC3 silo.