FEMA to Test ATSC 3.0 Alerting Technology

WASHINGTON —The federal agency in charge of managing national emergencies will conduct tests on the advanced alerting capabilities of ATSC 3.0, the new broadcast transmission standard now under development.

The Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency National Continuity Programs’ Integrated Public Alert and Warning System—IPAWS—Division said it has “begun to assess the feasibility of a public alert and warning capability that is being developed in the private sector.”

This technology, the Advanced Warning and Response Network, or AWARN, works by using advanced capabilities in ATSC 3.0, which provides for the transmission of large media-rich, data messages over-the-air to mobile, portable, and fixed TV devices without interrupting the programming.

The new technology could deliver detailed emergency information to the public with pictures and videos of evacuation routes, storm tracks, and shelter information – increasing community preparedness before, during, and after a disaster. The media alerts will be able to include multilingual and multi-format information to warn non-English speaking populations and people with access and functional needs.

AWARN capitalizes on existing emergency alerting standards and builds upon the Mobile Emergency Alert System, or M-EAS, developed during a pilot project and standardized by the Advanced Television Systems Committee.

FEMA’s testing, in the IPAWS Lab located at the Joint Interoperability Test Command in Indian Head, Md., will demonstrate the feasibility and operational deployment of AWARN within the IPAWS suite of technologies and allow public safety officials to gain confidence using IPAWS in a secure environment, according to FEMA.

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

FEMA’s IPAWS is a national system for local alerting. IPAWS enables authorities at all levels of government to alert and warn people in areas endangered by disasters. IPAWS is used by federal, state, and local authorities to send emergency alerts to cellular phones as Wireless Emergency Alerts, to radio and television as Emergency Alert System broadcasts, to NOAA Weather Radios, and to an All-Hazards Alert and Information Feed for Internet applications, services, and Websites.

For more information on IPAWS, visit www.fema.gov/ipaws.