Consumer Electronics Association Honors NPR Labs

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Consumer Electronics Association Honors NPR Labs for Emergency Alerting System Receiver

November 12, 2013 - Washington, D.C. – 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 CES’ annual conference, which runs from Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas.

Products entered in this prestigious 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.

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% 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 Sunday, January 5 in South Seas Ballroom C at Mandalay Bay.

The prestigious Innovations Design and Engineering Awards are sponsored by CEA, the producer of the International CES, a major industry conference that highlights consumer technologies, product design and engineering innovations.

About NPR Labs
NPR Labs’ mission is to identify, evaluate, and advance the application of innovative technologies in support of the public service mission of NPR and its member stations. NPR Labs was established in 2005 as one of America's only not-for-profit broadcast technology research and development centers and is located at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC.

About NPR
NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization and an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 900 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.

About the PRSS
The Public Radio Satellite System® (PRSS) is the distribution network through which thousands of hours of news, music, and specialized audience programming are delivered every year to almost 1,700 public radio stations throughout the United States. Managed by NPR Distribution, the PRSS is a unique, cooperative enterprise. Each participating station is a stakeholder in the collective assets of, and services provided by, the satellite system. Interconnected stations own their own downlink and uplink equipment. The satellite transponder capacity, as well as the national operating system equipment located in Washington, is owned by the Public Radio Satellite Interconnection System Charitable Trust.


Posted November 12, 2013