US public TV stations association is testing an alert system

MUMBAI: The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) in the US and the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) have tested the second phase of its Digital Emergency Alert System (DEAS).

This project demonstrates how the Department of Homeland Security can improve and disseminate public alerts and warnings during times of national crisis through the use of local public television's digital television broadcasts.

APTS president and CEO John Lawson said, "This project demonstrates how the capabilities of America's public broadcasters can be utilised to dramatically enhance the ability of the President of the United States to communicate with the American public during a national crisis.

"The partnership between APTS and the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA is a major step forward in laying the foundation for a new generation alert and warning system. The current EAS has it roots in the Cold War, and still relies on technology from that era. You had to be watching one of the major networks or listening to a radio station to have a chance of receiving the alert.

Fema director David Paulison says, "What we are announcing is an alert system for the mobile, networked, and digital America of the 21st Century. Digital capabilities will improve the reliability, flexibility and security of the emergency alert system.

"This more efficient system will better serve first responders and government officials, as well as provide the American public timely information so they can safeguard themselves and loved ones in times of emergencies."

APTS demonstrated the capabilities of digital broadcasting through a two- year project in the National Capital Region. The initial phases of this project included PBS, Wetas, 25 other public television stations across the US and the FCC.

APTS and Fema were also joined by partners in the commercial television, cable, cellular, paging and radio industries. SpectraRep, a professional services firm, provides technology and anagement consulting services to the television stations.

Lawson adds, "Public television is dedicated to public service. Our stations and the communities that support them, as well as state legislatures, foundations and the federal government, have raised over one billion for digital conversion. Our stations are using the powerful digital technology to bring new services to those they serve, including HDTV, new standard definition channels and rich media content delivered directly to PC's.

"Now we take a major step forward in using this same digital infrastructure to enhance public safety. The public will be safer because of this project. Public service is in the DNA of public television. Digital television is allowing us to roll out a new generation of content and services for the American people. We have always been about enhancing lives. Now we can help save lives as well."

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