CPB gives $1 million to build and expand emergency communication services

Five pubcasting stations are receiving a total of $1 million in grants from CPB to expand emergency alert and communications services. CPB announced the grants today to WSKG in Binghamton, N.Y.; Maine Public Broadcasting Network; Vegas PBS in Nevada; WGBH in Boston; and Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minn. Each will work with community partners and other pubmedia entities to acquire or develop digital wireless technology to assist first responders, emergency-management agencies and the public during disasters. Using pubmedia digital broadcasting technology, officials can send emergency information through text, audio and video.

NPR to pilot alerts for people with hearing disabilities

NPR will test a system for delivering emergency alerts to individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing in Gulf Coast states under a contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The project marks the first attempt to deliver real-time emergency messages such as weather alerts via radio-broadcast text to those with hearing disabilities. Through the Public Radio Satellite System, NPR will relay emergency alert messages received from FEMA via the Radio Broadcast Data System to public radio stations in the Gulf region. The stations will broadcast the alerts to receivers that are able to display text messages. Volunteers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing will be alerted to the warnings by flashing indicators on their radios or by a bed-shaking device that can be triggered by radios.