FEMA study finds that FM alerting works


Global Security Systems (GSS) has announced the completion of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-funded study conducted by Northrop Grumman Corporation that confirms the effectiveness of FM radio-based alerts and warnings provided by ALERT FM. ALERT FM is the personal emergency alerting system that uses Radio Broadcast Data Service (RBDS) FM-subcarrier technology to deliver up to 240-character text messages to any electronic device with Alert FM software and an enabled FM radio receiver chip, including those that are mobile. AlertUs Technology and Metis Secure were part of the study.

The one-year, real-world study included continuous working demonstration of the ALERT FM system over a three-month period across three locales:  a college campus; four counties spread across two states; and a larger region.  The structured live demonstrations tested the effectiveness of ALERT FM by activating receivers; adhering to Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) requirements; implementing geo-targeting exercises; and executing an all-clear wrap.  Following the operational test, the study surveyed alert originators and radio broadcasters.

ALERT FM is a CAP-compliant solution capable of delivering both audio and data feeds to radio broadcasters.  More than 35 million people in 14 states have access to ALERT FM technology.  State broadcast associations from Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, and Tennessee, and radio groups K-LOVE, Air1, Commonwealth Broadcasting, and the Cromwell Group support ALERT FM for emergency alert messages in their states and markets. ALERT FM has been implemented at the university, state, county, and multi-county levels. 

The ALERT FM system incorporates RBDS technology over the existing nationwide and redundant FM radio infrastructure to allow rapid dissemination of emergency alert messages to any audience based on geographic or organizational groupings.  ALERT FM can target FM-enabled devices in a single school, a football arena, or the entire country.  Plus, in times of disaster when cellular networks become overloaded, FM radio’s single-point to multiple-point transmission assures the delivery of critical information to a vast number of FM-enabled devices simultaneously.   In addition, ALERT FM “wakes up” the FM-enabled device when an emergency alert message is delivered.

According to Mark Lucero, Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Program Manager, FEMA, “The demonstrations showed that FM RBDS is a viable communications technology at the state and local emergency manager level for disseminating emergency information.”

“In any emergency, expanding the availability of FM on a variety of devices will save more lives.  The targeted alerting services that utilize the RBDS FM subcarrier technology enhance public safety because of the ubiquitous nature of FM radio,” said NAB President & CEO Gordon Smith.