New Group to Tackle ATSC 3.0 Emergency Benefits

IP-based broadcast standard opens up new opportunities for emergency information services

When people think of ATSC 3.0 — the next-generation, IP-based broadcast standard, currently under development — the first benefits that come to mind usually include new over-the-air services like targeted advertising, immersive audio, and the delivery of 4K and high-dynamic range (HDR).

A new coalition of broadcast groups and tech companies will bring the focus to another potential benefit: advanced alerting capabilities during emergencies.

Related: Stations Bring New Tech Wish Lists to Las Vegas

The Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN) will officially launch at this month’s NAB Show in Las Vegas, with Pearl TV (a consortium of 200-plus TV stations), Sinclair Broadcast Group, PBS Capitol Broadcasting Co. and the NAB’s technology development arm Pilot (formerly NAB Labs) representing the broadcast side. They’ll be joined by tech companies Digital Alert Systems/Monroe Electronics, Gates Air, LG Electronics, Triveni Digital and others.

AWARN will look to use ATSC 3.0 to improve current alerting systems, with geo-targeted and multilingual maps, videos and more, with the ability to reach millions of consumer electronics devices during a disaster. With ATSC 3.0 and AWARN’s proposed technologies, people can still be informed when cellular networks are overloaded, via the broadcast spectrum from TV stations.

Related: ATSC 3.0 to Play Big at NAB Show

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is already testing initial AWARN-related technologies on-site at its Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Lab in Indian Head, Md., the group announced.

“Next-generation TV enables this powerful next-generation emergency communications system,” said John Lawson, executive director of the group and principal at Convergence Services. “The additional support of the major broadcast groups with their nationwide reach is a huge step toward deployment of AWARN, a public alerting system for a 21st century America.”