Public broadcasting stations located in the Gulf and Atlantic Coast states have begun installing the new Digital Emergency Alert System (DEAS) to improve the delivery of Presidential alerts and severe weather warnings. This was timed to prepare for the start of the 2007 hurricane season, which runs from June to November.
The first phase is focusing on coastal states in the eastern United States, with the first 20 public television stations to be integrated into the DEAS network by the end of May. By the end of 2007, all public television stations will be equipped to receive and retransmit the digital emergency signal.
The Association of Public TV Stations (APTS), working through a grant provided by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is leading the rollout of the first phase of a nationwide deployment. Overall, the new warning system is expected to cost $4.5 million to test and deploy nationally, and $1 million annually to maintain.
The transition to digital has created an opportunity for public broadcasting to use its broadcast infrastructure to distribute emergency notifications to citizens nationwide.
The need to upgrade the existing EAS system became apparent after the 2001 terrorists attacks and after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast states, when communications problems hampered government response and notification efforts.
For more information, visit www.apts.org.