PBS to Launch Emergency Alert System Pilot Project Via Mobile Digital TV

PBS is turning to the mobile world for the future of emergency alert warnings.

Later this year, PBS will initiate testing on a next-generation emergency alert system, which is designed to deliver multimedia alerts using video, audio, text, and graphics to cellphones, tablets, laptops and netbooks, as well as in-car navigation systems.

The pilot project was announced Tuesday at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas.

“As a leader in digital-only broadcasting, PBS has been involved in testing digital broadcasting as a part of an upgraded emergency system since 2005,” says PBS Chief Technology Officer John McCoskey. “Now that the transition to digital is complete and Mobile DTV is rolling out, PBS will harness Mobile DTV’s powerful distribution system to provide new means of alerting Americans in the event of an emergency.”

And PBS has successfully lined up no shortage of prominent parters to support what’s being haled as a “landmark pilot project,” including LG Electronics Inc. and its U.S. R&D subsidiary, Zenith, which will develop handheld mobile DTV devices to receive the new alerts and will provide funding for the project.

Building on the flexibility of the ATSC Mobile Digital TV broadcast standard, the PBS pilot project will test capabilities designed to lead to a comprehensive new Mobile Emergency Alert System (MEAS), part of the first major overhaul of the nation’s aging Emergency Alert System (EAS) since the Cold War.

“We have always seen enormous public service potential in DTV broadcasting,” said LG Electronics’ Dr. Jong Kim, president of the Zenith R&D Lab in Linconshire, Ill. “LG is proud to support the important work of PBS, which will show Mobile EAS as a powerful new example of public-service DTV broadcasting.”