NextGen technology changing the way we find out about emergencies

Photo: U.S. Senate

There are some major changes in the works when it comes to the way we find out about impending emergencies. New technology is being developed to try to help get people out of harm’s way as fast as possible. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is among those working to change that, With what they call Nextgen technology available on TVs, they hope, in the near future.

These new TV sets will give localized, up to the minute information during times of emergency.

“Your TV set will wake up to see block by block where that storm is coming so you can stay out of harm’s way,” said Dennis Wharto, Exec V.P of Communications with NAB.

At a recent hearing on Capitol Hill, NAB’s Chief Technology Officer Sam Matheny called broadcasters the backbone of the emergency alert system.

“Broadcasting has no bottlenecks – an emergency alert can reach millions of people simultaneously without concern over network congestion,” Matheny said.

It’s estimated there are more than a thousand TV stations, 700 radio stations and now smartphones to get out the geo-targeted messages out.

“More than 33,000 wireless alerts have been sent, helping to locate those in danger and warn of imminent threats or disasters,” said Scott Bergmann, Senior V.P., Cellular Telecommunications Industry Assoc. during the hearing.

But there can be shortfalls in the emergency alert system as well. The recent false missile attack warning in Hawaii was one example as well as a lack of funding to implement new technology and of course - outside forces - like in 2013 when hackers interrupted a daytime talk show and delivered this warning.

“Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living”

As technology evolves, so too do the challenges. New hurdles in the race to stay safe when emergencies arise.

*Note: Our parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, has business interests in the development of next-gen technology.

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