CEA Honors NPR Labs for Emergency Alert System Receiver

November 12, 2013

Washington, DC - Nov 12, 2013 - NPR Labs has been selected by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) as an International CES Innovations 2014 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree for the development of an FM receiver to be used as part of an emergency alerting system for the deaf. The award will be presented to NPR Labs, at the CES annual conference, which runs from Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas.

Products entered in this program are judged by a preeminent panel of independent industrial designers, independent engineers and members of the trade media to honor outstanding design and engineering in cutting edge consumer electronics products across 29 product categories.

The NPR Labs receiver will help ensure that hearing-impaired individuals can stay informed during emergencies when electricity, Internet and other communications channels are unavailable.

The emergency alerting system, which is currently being piloted in the Gulf Coast region under a contract with the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Continuity Programs, is demonstrating the delivery of real-time emergency messages, such as weather alerts, via radio broadcast text, to the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

"We at NPR Labs are tremendously honored by CEA's recognition of our efforts to deliver potentially life-saving information to those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing," said Mike Starling, executive director of NPR Labs. "It is firm and encouraging acknowledgement of our mission to ensure that all Americans are able to stay informed in the event of an emergency."

The radio receiver, developed in collaboration with Catena Radio Design of the Netherlands, automatically scans radio broadcasts from participating public radio stations for emergency alerts. Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals are alerted to the message by a flashing indicator on the receiver or a bed-shaker triggered by the receiver, to ensure the message is received and seen day and night. The receiver can be connected by USB to a host computer or Android Tablet where the user can read and manage the incoming messages.

The distribution network of the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) is being used to test the effectiveness of the emergency alerting system. In the Gulf Coast demonstration, FEMA will transmit emergency alert messages to the PRSS using the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP).

The PRSS network operations center will then re-transmit the warning to 26 public radio stations on a dedicated digital alerting channel. The stations, located in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, will broadcast the emergency alert to receivers capable of displaying text messages. Once proven, the system could be expanded nationwide on the public radio stations served by the PRSS, which reach 95 percent of the U.S. population.

NPR Labs' emergency alerting system receiver will be displayed at The Venetian at the 2013 International CES, which runs from Jan. 7-10, 2014, in Las Vegas. Honorees will also be displayed at CES Unveiled: The Official Media Event of the International CES from 4-7 p.m. on Jan. 5 in South Seas Ballroom C at Mandalay Bay.

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