Society of Broadcast Engineers Forms EAS Committee

INDIANAPOLIS: The Society of Broadcast Engineers announced that it is reaffirming its Emergency Alert Systems efforts and inaugurating a educational committee.

“EAS is about to undergo significant changes with the adoption of the Common Alerting Protocol, and SBE members seek information about how to implement these changes and remain compliant with FCC rules,” SBE President Vinny Lopez said. “The SBE is in a unique position to gather and deliver this information through the work of this new committee. The SBE continues to serve as technical resource to the broadcast industry.”

The new SBE EAS Education Committee will be headed by Ralph Beaver, CBT. Beaver has extensive experience with EAS, going back to 1973. He also led the SBE’s previous EAS committee. The SBE also maintains an emergency comms-related e-mail list, the EAS Exchange.

The Federal Communications Commission recently set a deadline for broadcasters to adopt Common Alerting Protocol formats by March 29, 2011. CAP will be used to integrate emergency communications across TV, radio, the Internet and cell phones. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced formalization of CAP Sept. 30.

However, issues related to implementing CAP remain unaddressed, which motivated the SBE and other affected groups to petition for an extension. The petition remains unanswered. Among other concerns it questions how as many as 30,000 participants will be able to acquire the necessary gear within the timeframe from the limited number of vendors that make it. EAS equipment must pass federal certification.

The FCC currently lists 10 certified vendors. FEMA said it would publish a list of CAP-compliant gear that meet the CAP profile at its Responders Knowledge Base page on Nov. 5. FEMA’s vendor conformity assessment guide is available online. The standard document for CAP is available from the Organization for Advancement of Structured Information Standards. --with Radio World