The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and ONE Media 3.0, a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI), have launched the nation’s first pilot project to use Next Generation Broadcast to disseminate Advanced Emergency Information.
The pilot program will provide free, over-the-air redundancy to emergency messaging currently sent by local governments via text, email. social media, and other system platforms. The broadcast platform will bring with it the efficiency of instantaneous and simultaneous delivery to all users. ONE Media 3.0, through its affiliated WJLA (7 News) newsroom, will also provide enhanced, rich media supplements to those emergency messages that meet its newsworthy criteria.
Initially, the pilot will focus on emergency messages from Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The pilot will be expanded to other area jurisdictions in coming months. The pilot program will initially use the facilities of WJLA’s sister station in Washington, WIAV, and then migrate to WJLA 7 News with its broader reach.
NextGen Broadcast is based on the powerful ATSC 3.0 over-the-air transmission standard. This new protocol, rapidly being deployed across the nation, enables an exceptionally advanced alerting and informing tool. Rather than simple text crawls across a TV screen that a tornado is approaching, for example, NextGen Broadcast powers a much more robust signal that can render real time doppler radar, weather images, evacuation routes, shelter locations, flood maps – and do it in multiple languages. Importantly, the messages can be geo-targeted to just the area affected by the emergency warning based upon inputs by the viewer. Not limited to weather emergencies, the new tool will be employed for virtually all emergencies including civil unrest, hazardous spills, and AMBER Alerts.
This Advanced Emergency Information (AEI) can include both alerts and vital recovery information received on a wide range of enabled consumer devices and connected vehicles. Because TV stations operate independently of the cellular network and have back up power, they can continue to distribute emergency messages even when the cellular network and electric grids are down. While not a replacement for other alerting pathways, the new broadcast system dramatically enhances alerts with critical information and provides much needed redundancy.
The AEI pilot is an outgrowth of the AWARN Washington, DC Roundtable, which brought together local TV broadcasters and emergency managers from across the National Capital Region. The discussions centered on the voluntary deployment of AEI using the NextGen platform and ways to continue COG’s longtime commitment to supporting emergency communications.
Scott Boggs, Managing Director, Homeland Security and Public Safety at COG noted, “The jurisdictions that we represent are always looking for more and better ways to inform the public during emergencies. 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.”
According to Jerald Fritz, Executive Vice President Strategic and Legal Affairs at ONE Media 3.0, the pilot project is an opportunity to showcase the life-saving capabilities of NextGen Broadcast. “Sinclair and ONE Media 3.0 have developed an open-source broadcaster app that provides a range of new consumer services, with AEI being the most powerful from a public service perspective. Sinclair has made a huge investment in local journalism at our stations across the country. Working with the COG to voluntarily deploy AEI through the 7 News newsroom paves the way to extend our ‘first informer’ role to many more markets,” he said.
AWARN Executive Director John Lawson said the National Capital Region pilot is an extension of a dialogue at the national and grassroots levels between broadcasters and emergency managers in several regions. “Through our AWARN roundtables, we found that technology is only the front-end of the conversation. Just as important is developing the relationships between local stations and emergency managers to actually use the technology. The Washington AEI pilot is a testbed for both technical capabilities and the working relationships between broadcasters and emergency managers that are vital to keep the public safe,” he said.
Anyone in the WIAV (display Channel 58) viewing area who has a NextGen TV set or a NextGen set-top converter box should be able to receive the emergency messages from WIAV. As other devices, including NextGen-enabled phones, are deployed, those too will benefit from this sophisticated new emergency tool.
About Sinclair/ONE Media 3.0
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) is a diversified media company and a leading provider of local news and sports. The Company owns, operates and/or provides services to 185 television stations in 86 markets affiliated with all the major broadcast networks; owns Tennis Channel and multicast networks Comet, CHARGE! and TBD; and owns and provides services to 21 regional sports network brands. Sinclair’s content is delivered via multiple platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and the nation’s largest streaming aggregator of local news content, NewsON. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at www.sbgi.net.
ONE Media 3.0, headquartered in Hunt Valley, MD, was established as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. with a vision to build and globally deploy the Next Generation Broadcast Platform, enabling broadcasters to be competitive across all platforms in delivering enhanced video and data services. For more information about ONE Media 3.0, see www.onemediallc.com.
About the AWARN Alliance
The Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN) Alliance is an international coalition of commercial and public broadcasters, consumer electronics makers, and B2B tech companies that is supporting the development of Advanced Emergency Information using ATSC 3.0 NextGen TV. The AWARN Roundtables support the Alliance’s vision: to save lives and protect communities by leveraging advanced emergency alerting, news and information powered by ATSC 3.0 NextGen TV. The Alliance’s mission is to educate, promote, advocate and collaborate to support the successful rollout of ATSC 3.0 advanced emergency alerting, news and information.
About the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
The Council of Governments is an independent, nonprofit association of 24 local governments where area leaders address regional issues affecting the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia.
Category - General