NextGen TV to deliver data-rich emergency alerts
A pilot program based in Washington, D.C., will leverage the new ATSC 3.0 digital broadcast standard to deliver advanced emergency information to residents.
The Washington, D.C.-area Metropolitan Council of Governments (COG) is launching a pilot program to disseminate local governments’ emergency alerts using next-generation broadcasting.
NextGen TV broadcasting—which is the new ATSC 3.0 over-the-air transmission standard—enhances current messaging systems such as text, email and social media by providing real-time doppler radar, weather images, evacuation routes, shelter location and flood maps to consumer devices and connected vehicles.
The IP-based broadcast system can also operate when cellular networks and electric grids are down to deliver geotargeted emergency information to residents in multiple languages, COG said in a statement. NextGen Broadcast will enable communications for other critical incidents such as civil unrest, hazardous spills and AMBER alerts.
Under the pilot, advanced emergency information (AEI) from Arlington and Fairfax counties as well as the District of Columbia will be broadcast. Messaging will be sent using Washington’s WIAV station facilities before transferring to WJLA 7 News for a broader reach. The program will expand to additional jurisdictions “in coming months,” according to COG.
First responders in North Carolina have already seen NextGen TV’s advantages for emergency communications. With funding from the Department of Homeland Security, responders recently tested a newly developed NextGen TV-enabled paging system that can transmit voice, data, images, video and GIS over public broadcast spectrums.
“We see NextGen AEI as a powerful new tool for both public warning and providing vital information for recovery after disaster strikes. Because it uses over-the-air broadcast signals, AEI can be especially effective for reaching underserved audiences,” Managing Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at COG Scott Boggs said.
Residents within the WIAV viewing area that have a NextGen TV set or NextGen set-top converter box—which meet the new ATSC 3.0 over-the-air transmission standards—should be able to receive alerts, COG said. Eventually, NextGen-enabled phones and other devices may receive alerts too.
The pilot program was developed in partnership with ONE Media 3.0, a subsidiary of the Sinclair Broadcast Group.