As the recent Hurricane-Sandy-related storms have shown, wireless communications systems are vulnerable and frequently cell phone service is knocked out during major weather events. In a previous story here on AWARE last summer, we noted that having an FM radio receiver in all cellular handsets would provide a means to receive emergency information that comes directly from the broadcast station towers and does not depend on the vulnerable cellular networks. In the article, we explored why FM is currently lacking on U.S. wireless devices and highlighted the ongoing campaign of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) advocating for wireless carriers to provide FM chips in handsets. The work of broadcasters has apparently paid off, as Sprint announced this week that it would indeed begin activating FM in many of its smart phones. Even more encouraging is that the press release hints of interactive aspects to this FM tuner application, making it more than just a mere radio receiver.
In a mid-November FEMA webinar, the alert and warning community received an update on the extensive use of the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) by the National Weather Service (NWS) over the last several months and an encouraging report from FEMA on the growing number of alert originators and alert origination service developers that continue to request connection to FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
As we all know, the role of wireless services in Americans’ everyday lives have progressed over the years, resulting in a reliance on these services for critical information. This has especially had an impact on the alerts and warnings community and the need to expand the breadth of the alerts and warnings “toolbox” to include vehicles for communication that leverage wireless services and devices to receive timely information on the go, often when other resources may be unavailable. Tools such as the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS), also known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), are helping to expand these wireless capabilities within the alerts and warnings community by helping consumers to receive emergency alerts through their wireless phones.
With this increased reliance on wireless services, especially in emergency situations, comes the importance of public-private partnerships between stakeholders in the alerts and warnings community. Continue reading »
A lot of us don’t give having an FM radio receiver in our mobile device a second thought, but for those caught up in the recent storms and ensuing power outages having FM available in their cellphones could have been a lifeline. So says the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which has been advocating for FM in mobile devices for years.