Public Media = Public Safety

Posted by Tom Axtell on

Tom Axtell, General ManagerTom Axtell, General Manager

Every year, millions of visitors attend a convention in Las Vegas.Two of the city's largest conventions — the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) — combined with the annual PBS Technology Conference, make Las Vegas a national hub for technology conventions. Vegas PBS has leveraged these conventions by offering to demonstrate and experiment with promising new technology and in the process, became a national leader in public safety and educational technology applications.

For example, “datacasting” — the broadcasting of data to computers within a TV signal – was developed by Vegas PBS as an emergency communications service. When disasters hit, state emergency management officials can tap into our public television transmitter to deliver messages to the public and first responders when cellular networks are overwhelmed by customer calls and texts. Vegas PBS was the first station to make bandwidth available to emergency responders during crises and to provide them with preselected multimedia data in the form of blueprints, photos, key personnel and emergency plans.

In the event of a public safety incident, Vegas PBS can securely transmit critical information — hidden in our broadcast signal — directly to the Clark County School District police, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department or the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center. Vegas PBS systems were recently utilized by emergency managers during a mercury contamination at a local public school and during the Carpenter 1 Fire on Mount Charleston.

In part due to the success of this lifesaving application first created at Vegas PBS, the national PBS network is currently included in a proposal that would make all PBS stations part of the new FirstNet public safety communications system for first responders.

In addition to the emergency alerts you hear on Channel 10, Vegas PBS also uses our television signal to send backup public safety messages to mobile cellular devices during extreme weather conditions or AMBER alerts.The grant-funded PBS Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) is used by public television stations across the country to broadcast geo-targeted wireless emergency alert messages directly to cell phone towers, making public television a potentially lifesaving resource, even for people who might never turn on a television.

The public service impact of public television goes far beyond the high-quality entertaining and educational broadcast television programs your membership supports. The less-visible public safety technology applications are a critical part of our mission as a nonprofit public service media organization. The broadcast technology infrastructure we use to transmit your favorite television programs also helps emergency management agencies, first responders and law enforcement keep our community safe. April is Disaster Preparedness Month, and through your support, Vegas PBS is prepared to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Tom Axtell
General Manager

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