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Applied Technology: GSS Alert FM
FM chips are readily available for insertion into cell phones and are used extensively outside the US. The consumers are offered easy access to FM stations and data via the open service business model adopted in Europe and Asia. This means the carriers provide the service and offer users a la carte services without tying them to a particular phone or cell service. This has resulted in more than 40 percent of the market using FM radio and receiving important data using the cell phone. Secondly, the technical barriers of battery drain and internal antennas have been overcome. The chips available provide signal sensitivity capable of tuning and receiving FM radio signals without external headset antennas. Coupled with tuning and battery-saving software, the tuner wakes and goes back to sleep. The same software is used in GPS receivers, NOAA weather data receivers, alert receivers, smoke detectors and other consumer devices to preserve battery life.
Currently, a FEMA study program is in place to provide global government adoption of the FM radio-based alert technology and applications into the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Infrastructure. As part of this adoption, FM radio-based alert products will be added to the IPAWS qualified products list (as a message disseminator) and eligible for deployment across the United States.
Fixed and mobile
Today FM radio-based alert systems can feature fixed and/or mobile receivers. The receivers are programmable for up to 30 groups and services, have siren- and text-alert capabilities, and powered by a combination of battery and ac power. They are capable of receiving messages from any FM station on its network, so customers, may use their receivers anywhere there is GSS FM coverage. This feature is particularly beneficial during evacuations.
These systems can be fully CAP compliant, which will allow for full integration with third-party systems such as reverse 911 telephone systems or sirens. Many times a user will already have other notification technologies and he wants the new FM radio notification capability added to his existing system. This integration capability and open architecture allows these systems to be expanded into new applications in the future. They can also be activated via existing alert and warning systems.
As emergency communication channels continue to receive scrutiny, the role of broadcasters will advance as the FM network infrastructure is considered to provide efficient and solid support for the vigorous delivery of time critical, life-saving messages.
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