Recent disasters such as the Japanese tsunami have highlighted the number of lives that could be saved through an effective emergency warning broadcast system (EWBS). The ABU (Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union) Technical Committee issued a declaration in 2010 supporting the introduction of EBWS and the ABU General Assembly has declared "that, as a matter of urgency, ABU members consider the introduction of such EWBS systems." The launch of new broadcast digital TV platforms in Asia Pacific provides the opportunity to implement EWBS on broadcast TV at low cost using industry standard technology. It is expected that other forms of EWBS will also be deployed to achieve multiple alert mechanisms.
There is interest at Broadcast Asia in Singapore in UK-based interactive TV technology vendor Strategy & Technology demonstrations of how MHEG (Multimedia and Hypermedia Experts Group) middleware can be used to implement EWBS. The company is showing how, when an alert is triggered, the MHEG EWBS implementation immediately interrupts scheduled TV programming with an audio alert and the display of both text and graphical information. Easy navigation to news or information services can also be included. The alert trigger will typically be initiated from the national coordination centre via links to the broadcaster's head-end. Alerts could also be delivered to specific broadcast transmitters.
MHEG-5 offers an EWBS implementation using an established standard. The advantages of this approach include MHEG's low technology cost, no IPR license fees and short time to market as MHEG is already included in most manufacturers' receiver designs. In addition, the receiver conformance test for MHEG is relatively straightforward, understood and simple for broadcasters to implement using standard head-end equipment.