This is the second in a series of 4 reports on the recent National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Convention held April 9-14 in Las Vegas, NV.
This report continues with news from the Wednesday morning session entitled, “Next-Generation EAS: The Final Stretch”. In a video on FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) presented by Damon Penn, Assistant Administrator for National Continuity Programs at FEMA, it was noted that alert originators must successfully complete “FEMA-sponsored training” before they will be granted permission to use IPAWS. In discussions with two FEMA officials in their booth on the convention floor, it was confirmed that this online training will be mandatory for IPAWS access, and will be offered by the FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) in the same manner as other National Incident Management System (NIMS) courses that first responders must complete. This is welcome news for broadcasters, who have long wanted greater visibility for EAS among first responders. This training will not only inform them of the new capabilities of EAS-CAP, but will encourage best practices outlined in the course. This will be a win-win for both providers and users of EAS-CAP.
FEMA promised more training in a recent webinar, and they kicked off that effort in their booth on the NAB floor with twelve 30-minute Hands-On Workshops conducted throughout the four-day convention. These seminars were well attended and appeared to be quite successful. During the previously mentioned Wednesday morning NAB session, Antwane Johnson, Division Director and Program Manager for FEMA IPAWS, also spoke of training that will be conducted with the Regional Emergency Communications Coordination Working Group (RECCWG) in each of the 10 FEMA Regions.
On the topic of engaging state and local officials, Greg Cooke from the FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau stated that the new EAS rules already in place designate an alert from a State Governor as must-carry for broadcasters if the message is delivered in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) format. The Commission views this as an incentive for state governments to become more involved in EAS and spark their desire for upgrading their state EAS system to CAP capability (hopefully by designating grant funding to this purpose). He also pointed out that the upcoming public awareness campaign for the National EAS Test later this year will be an opportunity for broadcasters and emergency managers to work together to promote and improve EAS.
FEMA’s Antwane Johnson also noted the outreach, training and education that will be needed to prepare broadcasters, public officials and agencies, and the general public for the National EAS Test. He reported that similar efforts prior to the statewide EAS test in Alaska earlier this year helped make that test a success. There were no announcements at the NAB Convention regarding the outstanding decisions on the National EAS Test.
In our next NAB Convention Report, we will update you on everyone’s favorite acronyms: OPEN, RSS, CA, CMAS, WRIP, PEP and more.