State Employee Grant Program

STATE OF WASHINGTON
EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM

Approved by the
Federal Communications Commission
, March 3, 1997

State Emergency Communications Committee Meeting Minutes

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May 4, 2004

Present:

Terry Spring - KWPX-TV
Art Blum - KONA (via phone)
Mark Allen - WSAB
Lowell Kiesow - KPLU
Don White - KCPQ/KTWB
Greg Thies - KING-TV
Ted Buehnor - NWS Seattle
Kris McGowan - FCC
Jim Tharp - Entercom
Don Miller - WSEM (via phone)
Roland Robinson - Bates
Dave Carr - Bates
E. Wayne Hatchel - Bates
Bob Wyatt - KSPS (via phone)
Clay Freinwald - Entercom

The recent broadcast of 10.5 on NBC was discussed. It was pure Hollywood with little basis in fact. It raised the ire of emergency management people in California. Locally, the Space Needle was not happy with it.

NOAA has given their Environmental Hero award to Clay Freinwald in Seattle and Ron Valley in Spokane. They were both nominated by Ted Buehner.

The meeting notes on the previous SECC meeting were accepted, and have been posted on the WSAB web site.

Clay reported on the monitoring assignment work group meeting in Ellensburg. A big thank you to Bob Johnson for the use of the KITCOM facility. Clay is disseminating the information into a new Tab 10 which will be distributed some time in the future. There will be quite a few changes.

The new state wide AMBER plan was discussed. In early March, there was a meeting between broadcasters, law enforcement, and other interested parties that resolved the last remaining issues with the plan. The sponsors signed off on it. It will replace the existing Tab 26 in the state plan. Originally, the different local plans had different criteria for issuing alerts. Under the new plan, alerts are issued by WSEM under the direction of the Washington State Patrol. The purpose of this is to have uniformity across the state because the alerts are issued state wide. Those entities with approved plans will have their alerts issued automatically. Areas without an approved plan will have their alerts reviewed by the WSP before being issued. Existing plans will be reviewed and revised to meet the new guidelines. Local entities will have until January 1, 2005, to have their local plans approved. After that date, areas with out approved plans will go through the WSP. The SECC approved the state wide AMBER alert plan. The plan will take effect on June 14. The web portal will be up the same date, with a media event about a month later. Several local plans were sent back to be revised to comply with the new state plan.

The problem with the recent Walla Walla AMBER alert was caused by a hardware problem at EMD. This has been resolved.

The use of EAS for 911 center outages was discussed. EAS alerts can be filtered at the station level if they are not relevant. But if there are too many alerts, they could become part of the background noise and ignored. EAS is not too good for detail. There needs to be a source for more information about some alerts. The TV stations are concerned about the cable over ride issue, which will be discussed at the next meeting.

Clay had a conversation with Harold Price at NAB. He writes the code for the Sage ENDEC. New chips that will accept Windows based programming are on the way for the ENDEC, but they are not out yet. The original EAS proposal had text capabilities. This will be in the new chips. The text part will run in the background after the EOM tones. Sage will do this voluntarily. Other manufacturers can add it if the want. The specifications are all part of the public record. Sage also has a new blue ENDEC out with AES audio in and out.

The theme of the EAS session at NAB was expanding EAS by thinking outside the box.

Using real event codes for testing was discussed. There is a difference of opinion around the country on the legality of it. The Washington State SECC is opposed to any use of real event codes for testing purposes. The tsunami test on September 15 will use the RMT code here, although some areas are using the regular tsunami warning code. The September RMT was originally scheduled for September 6. Watch the remailer for a time and other information.

In Spokane, at the recent EAS meeting, the Washington State Patrol and the Idaho State Patrol discussed AMBER. Idaho has grant money for broadcasters to upgrade or enhance EAS equipment.

Mark Kennedy is the new local chair in Yakima.

The new Com Labs satellite unit will be installed at NWS this Friday.

At the NWS, the Seattle Experiment is moving forward. It is authorized for the Western US. It will be coming soon to Portland, Spokane and Pendleton. The new NWS codes are being implemented. There have been issues around the country.

The WSAB has a new email address: wa-broadcasters@earthlink.com. Mark Allen was at the Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association meeting. They have no AMBER plan, and are interested in how we do it here.

The FCC is entering their travel season. They plan on visiting all the stations in whatever area they are in. They will inspect any stations not in the alternative inspection program.

There will be a test of the tsunami warning system every September. This will be coordinated with the September RMT.

The new software for the Sage ENDEC was demonstrated at NAB, but it is not available yet. It will require the purchase of new firmware. The software itself will also have to be purchased. The old version was free.

Amateur radio repeaters that use decoders that do not regenerate header codes can cause problems if they are being monitored for EAS alerts.

In SBE news, the FCC plans to release a NPRM for EAS this fall. This probably means more changes for EAS.

The New Jersey SECC publishes a newsletter. It lets people know what is happening with EAS.


Recently Clay held EAS classes at Entercom. He also travels a lot.

The next meeting will be Thursday, July 8th, at 9:30 AM at the WSEM building at Camp Murray. The cable over ride issue will be discussed. Cable representatives are encouraged to attend.

Terry Spring
Chief Engineer
KWPX Seattle

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