How the National Alert System is now broken.

Tanner | Nov 10, 2011

Broken TVThere are more than 140 million people tuning-in to watch something on television nearly every day.* And yet the attention viewers are giving their television is shifting. Now more of us are browsing the web on our laptops or iPads or phones while the TV plays on in the background, if it’s on at all. Today there are dozens of ways in which TV has become a passive and even online social activity. No longer are many of us simply tuning-in and giving the television our full attention. So when the Public Safety Bureau launches a test of the once effective and helpful Emergency Alert System we can’t help but ask ourselves: who noticed? The purpose of the emergency system is to provide instant national security alerts to the nation over television, radio, and other broadcast mediums. On the verge of a terrorist attack, a daunting national disaster, or some other form of danger, the alert system would take control of your television or radio and send you information. Of course, the system doesn’t always work, and while there are millions of people watching TV during any hour of the day, there are billions more on social networks or blogs or watching TV through services like Netflix or Hulu, not in real-time. Why hasn’t the government jumped on the backs of these networks to create a more modern alert system? What good is an alert on TV going to do anyone if their writing to a friend on Twitter or uploading photos to Facebook? If I’m watching an episode of “Parks & Recreation” on Netflix, how will I know if there’s a national emergency? Right now, the system doesn’t work. It’s behind the times, outdated, defunct. Is this something worth worrying about? Maybe. Is it surprising that the government is so far behind where the Nation actually is giving our attention? Very. *Source: Nielsen 2009 TV report.
Photo by schmilblick.


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