Four public broadcasting stations will participate in a Mobile Emergency Alert System (M-EAS) pilot project funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and LG Electronics to assess the potential of sharing crisis information via Mobile Digital TV services. WGBH in Boston, Vegas PBS and two Alabama Public Television stations (WBIQ in Birmingham and WAIQ in Montgomery) will serve as test markets. “By using terrestrial over-the-air TV broadcasting, rather than cellular network connectivity, M-EAS is expected to meet critical needs for emergency alerts,” a PBS announcement said. The goal is to prove the viability of M-EAS using existing standards, and to create a template for use by all broadcasters, public or commercial.
“With the Mobile EAS service,” said John McCoskey, PBS’s chief technology officer, “we’ll be able to send everything from AMBER alert photos to detailed maps with escape routes, live video, and extensive information that viewers will find invaluable in a disaster. This goes way beyond just a text message on a congested cell phone network. It’s harnessing the power of ‘one-to-many’ transmissions from a TV broadcaster to the viewing audience.”