EAS WATCH - An Overview

Emergency Alert System

EAS, or Emergency Alert System, provides a framework under which emergency information can be sent by broadcasters to those who need such information. But it has not been without its problems. EAS WATCH offers a family of products developed to help meet some of these challenges. When reliability counts, EAS WATCH will be there.

The Emergency Alert System has had many improvements over the last several years. Satellite distribution, National Weather Service distribution and the use of state relay networks have each helped to reduce the failure rate.

EAS Failures

Despite these improvements EAS continues to occasionally fail to reach relevant stations. Sometimes the EAS gets to the station, but the alert is not broadcast, due to a variety of technical issues or human error. What's worse is that, as currently implemented, there is no mechanism to notify the EAS initiator that there has been a failure.

The authorities responsible for the EAS initiation may learn of failures days or weeks later. At least one state set up a full time audio feed from across state so they could at least confirm that their state relay network is able to transmit audio to the far side of the state.

FCC enforcement information releases have revealed that some stations have gone for weeks or months without broadcasting any EAS at all. The result is usually a substantial fine. In some cases the station management may not be aware of EAS failures. In other hopefully rare cases, those responsible for the station simply don't care until caught.

If a missed alert was a flood watch, the failure of a few stations in the targeted area to broadcast the EAS may be of little consequence. But at other times a failure can be costly in terms of both lives and property. In any case, it's important to ensure that EAS works reliably and can be depended upon.

EAS WATCH Remote Station Monitor RSM-24

Addressing EAS Problems with EAS WATCH

Cascade Technology Corporation has developed EAS WATCH -- a new system which continuously monitors the actual transmitted signal from broadcast stations. Our system detects Emergency Alerts and conveys the data it collects via Internet to a high definition TV Situation Display located in a state or regional Emergency Management Center.

When an alert is initiated by an EMC, the audio from that alert is decoded by the on-site server. Through access to a relational database and decoding of the EAS FIPS codes, our system displays the relevant stations on a state or regional map. At this point, the stations are shown at their approximate location with a yellow icon. Once a monitored station successfully broadcasts the EAS, its icon turns green. For those stations which do not broadcast the EAS within a user adjustable time interval, the icon turns red.

Validating and Verifying EAS

In addition to confirming that an EAS has been transmitted, the system performs a technical analysis of the signal in order to confirm that it meets the FCC regulations relating to bit rate, tone frequencies, pauses and audio levels. If the signal does not conform fully to the EAS protocol, a warning is provided. A full report on the technical deficiencies can be printed. The report of the discrepancy (or any missed EAS) can also be sent to the station by clicking on their e-mail address which pops up with the report.

EAS WATCH Situation Display

EAS WATCH also addresses the problem of spurious EAS transmissions. Currently there is no way for authorities to know that a station has accidentally sent out an EAS. They are most likely to learn of this when the media calls regarding the emergency that is not real. By then it's too late. With EAS WATCH, any spurious EAS will result in the generation of a new regional map on the Situation Display that will also allow tracking of any propagation of the EAS through other broadcasters.

EAS WATCH Situation Display

Zooming in on an area of the map reveals more information about the status of individual stations; the icons as shown in the image to the right are replaced by station callsigns. Moving a cursor over any station on the map pops up a window with station information, including contact telephone numbers and email addresses. In the event of a failure to broadcast a relevant EAS, informing the station instantly via email is as easy and intuitive as clicking an onscreen button.

All data collected by the system -- both EAS initiations and EAS broadcasts -- are stored in a relational database system allowing the rapid generation of reports. One such report details the the activity of a single station over a period of time. Another report displays performance information for all monitored stations during a particular EAS event (such as an RWT). EAS WATCH reports can easily be selected and generated on demand for viewing or printing.

Convenient Automation

Station performance reports can be automatically sent via email on request or even on a regular weekly or monthly basis. We also expect to offer online password authenticated access to stations that wish to view reports within a web browser. Reports on any EAS Event can be automatically sent to government agencies that wish to monitor performance. With EAS WATCH, everyone can remain informed.

EAS WATCH RSM-24 Touchscreen Display

The EAS WATCH system uses Channel Monitors -- regionally located multichannel radio receivers that continuously monitor various broadcast stations as well as National Weather Service transmitters and state relay network transmissions. Each Channel Monitor is designed to receive, analyze and report on the broadcast signals for up to 24 frequencies.

EAS WATCH at Work in Your State

With EAS WATCH, you can be sure that your local EAS plan will work as devised. There will be no room for doubt as each EAS test, thanks to continuous monitoring, will reveal those potential weaknesses in your state's system. Armed with valuable real-time information, such weaknesses can be addressed and corrected before a real emergency occurs. When disaster strikes you want your state to be ready. And EAS WATCH will help you do just that. You'll be ready when it really matters.

Doesn't your state deserve the emergency preparedness and peace of mind that EAS WATCH will bring?

Of course it does!

Contact us today.

Patent Pending - US Patent and Trademark Office

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