Public Emergency Alerting and the role of Broadcasters
Paul Johnson, Douglas County Emergency Management. Douglas County (Omaha) has just released an official Emergency Alert (EA) Plan which includes a description of EAS and WEA activation. Paul will tell us how the LECC was formed and how he expects EAS and CAP to be used in Nebraska’s most populated county.
Stations and cable have been connected to IPAWS/CAP for two years now. A state-wide RMT was sent by CAP on September 17, 2013. When will Nebraska be implementing CAP messages from local, state or NWS sources? What kind of local or state CAP testing can broadcasters expect?
Added bonus: Bob Eastwood of FEMA Region VII has been invited to briefly update us on the national perspective.
Nebraska Broadcasters Association Annual Convention
In association with Society of Broadcast Engineers Chapter 74
Thursday August 14, 2014,
Cornhusker Marriott Hotel
333 South 13th Street
Lincoln NE 68508
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making
The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) relating to EAS on June 26, 2014. The proposed rulemaking change was made in light of the first nationwide EAS test in November 2011. The proposed change can be found at here
Tornado EAS Drill Authorized
The FCC authorized the state of Nebraska to send a “real code” Tornado EAS Drill on Wednesday March 26, 2014 at 10 AM CDT. All broadcasters and cable systems were requested to participate. Most radio stations in Nebraska forward the TOR EAS drill the same as a real Tornado warning.For the PDF brochure prepared by the National Weather Service explaining the prevalence and danger of severe weather in Nebraska please click here.
It is important for all broadcasters and cable systems to let their audience know that we are prepared to warn them in case of dangerous, life threatening situations. The Tornado Drill on March 26 helped us accomplish that goal.
Nebraska EAS Monitoring Assignments have Changed
The FCC has been contacted by the Nebraska SECC with changes in LP-1 and State Relay monitoring for EAS in Nebraska. Here is a description.
Nebraska has moved all LP-1 and State Relay to FM radio. We have found that FM radio is the most reliable and universal way to distribute legacy EAS. In 2014 the Nebraska SECC plans to release the updated EAS State Plan with these lists included.
Specific updates to FM LP-1 monitoring assignments are as follows:
Auburn/Nebraska City LP-1 now will be KNCY-FM 103.1 MHz
Omaha LP-1 now will be KGOR 99.9 FM
Lincoln LP-1 is KFRX 106.3 FM
North Platte LP-1 is now KZTL 93.5 FM
Norfolk LP-1 is KEXL 106.7 FM
South Sioux City, KSFT 107.1 FM
New LP-1 in York, KTMX 104.9 FM
(there may be others added this year)
NOTE: All broadcasters and cable systems are required to monitor a National Weather Service station and a State Relay station on EAS equipment. We are also highly encouraged to monitor an LP-1 station.
NET Radio is a 24 hour service where NET TV transmitters sign off at night. We have found most broadcasters and cable systems already monitor NET Radio because EAS receivers typically do not have a TV option. NET TV will continue to relay statewide EAS alerts and tests but as a secondary service not as the official State Relay system.
If you monitor an AM LP-1 station that should still work, but please make plans to update your EAS receivers and monitor an FM LP-1. Especially if you have any reception problems day or night with an old AM assignment.
SAGE ENDEC Installation
All stations with Sage Endecs should go to the website: www.sagealertingsystems.com and download and install ENDEC software Version 89. This will allow you to start receiving the CAP tests and alerts via an internet connection. CAP tests are being sent every weekday at 11:05 AM CT for Nebraska.
All brands of EAS equipment should now be able to receive the CAP RWTs sent daily. Contact your manufacturer if your facility is not receiving these tests.
If any station or cable system does NOT have an internet connection available to your EAS/CAP decoder, you need to contact the FCC immediately and let Jim Skinner know (firstname.lastname@example.org). Any station or cable system that does not have an IP link to IPAWS and does not have a waiver from the FCC will be in violation of FCC rules after June 30, 2012. In the near future CAP alerts from the National Weather Service will become available through IPAWS. This will be a big upgrade for many facilities across Nebraska.
Note: weather radios and State Relay stations must still be monitored. CAP does NOT replace the legacy EAS monitoring requirements.
FCC Approves Text-to-Speech AT Station Encoder
Nebraska SECC submitted comments to the FCC along with many other groups. The FCC's decision to allow TTS on CAP messages opens the door for Nebraska to proceed to design a reasonable CAP Emergency Alert System. We are talking to vendors and NEMA on the best way to make both statewide and local alerts available to everyone in the state. The state plan is on hold until the CAP generating system is ready to be incorporated.
At the May 17 Nebraska SECC meeting a Nebraska State Patrol representative was added to the committee, there are now 10 voting members of the SECC. We are expecting CAP formatted messages from the National Weather Service this summer. Still no word on when wireless phone companies will bring CMAS to Nebraska.
Nebraska SECC Supports Need for Text-to-Speech
Below is an official comment submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by Nebraska SECC on March 20, 2012. It is in reference to FCC Proceeding 04-296
Additional comments can be viewed at the FCC website.
The Nebraska State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC) in cooperation with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is presently engaged in seeking the best way for Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) emergency messages to be generated in the State. Initially such messages will originate from National Weather Service Offices. In the near future we hope to install technology that could allow state and local law enforcement and emergency personnel to generate CAP messages to broadcast and cable. It is also expected that the CAP technology will be useful to generate alerts to wireless devices, road signs and other public media.
Click here to read the full commemnt.
IPAWS Testing to Stations is Up and Running
Those with Monroe CAP/EAS decoders have been able to receive Required Weekly Tests (RWT) from Washington, via the internet. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Aggregator delivers the tests to Nebraska every Monday at 11:00 AM Central Time (10 MT). Monroe makes the DASDEC and R189 One-Net EAS equipment.
Sage CAP ENDECs (blue box) will have an update to make them compatible with the IPAWS messages by the first of March 2012. Soon all CAP/EAS equipment will be able to "receive and log" the IPAWS/CAP RWT for Nebraska every Monday. More importantly potentially life-saving emergency alerts will be coming via IPAWS soon as well.
============== General Info ===============
The FCC has set a date of June 30, 2012 for all stations and cable systems to be required to receive Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) Internet Provided (IP) messages from the FEMA IPAWS Aggregator. A full time internet connection will be required on your CAP/EAS equipment. Contact your manufacturer for details.
The National Weather Service in Nebraska is presently installing their IPAWS CAP equipment and will be sending weather alerts via IPAWS well before June 30. Other Nebraska emergency agencies are making plans to generate CAP messages through the IPAWS system, perhaps even this year.
Separate but parallel to EAS is WEA. Most if not all wireless phone companies are gearing up to disseminate and sell phones that respond to Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) messages. The system is also known as CMAS or PLAN. It broadcasts emergency messages to all WEA capable phones by region at no charge. It will NOT use SMS for individual texts to separate devices. WEA is also triggered by a CAP message from the FEMA IPAWS Aggregator, the same as CAP/EAS. Look for the WEA logo on new phones.
The IPAWS system should be in full operation this summer. Be ready, CAP is your friend. It is a step in the right direction to send relevant and meaningful emergency messages to your audience. This is especially valuable for automated stations and cable systems that do not have 24/7 staff to broadcast local emergency messages.
Please contact Jim Skinner (email@example.com) with comments or questions about CAP EAS in Nebraska
FCC Extends EAS-CAP Deadline
On September 16, the FCC announced a 9-month extension to the deadline for broadcasters and cable operators to have equipment installed to receive Emergency Alert System (EAS) Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) alerts. The previous deadline of September 30, 2011 has now been extended to June 30, 2012. For more information, please click here.
New Opportunities for Public Alerting Presentation
In this PowerPoint presentation, Michael Gerber of the National Weather Service discusses:
- NWS CAP feeds IPAWS and PLAN/CMAS
- CAP as an enabler for decision support and alert technologies
- New collaborative venue for NWS CAP users
- NWS CAP roadmap
- Improving alert origination tools for better communicating impact
To view the full presentation, please click here.