The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), a nonprofit organization of public television stations, have announced a new partnership to improve communications for the nation’s first responders.
DHS S&T and APTS signed an agreement to make datacasting technology, the broadcasting of data over a wide area via radio waves, available to the public safety community. Datacasting enables the transmission of secure data, including voice, text, files, images, and video over existing broadcast television signals to a targeted audience, according to DHS S&T’s announcement.
The technology works even in emergency situations where wireless services are not available.
“America’s Public Television Stations are honored to have established a formal partnership with the US Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate to promote the deployment of public safety datacasting as an effective component in the protection of the American people,” APTS president and CEO Patrick Butler commented in a statement.
"We look forward to working with DHS and with first responders and emergency communications agencies nationwide to marshal this promising public television technology in the service of our country,” Butler added.
The value of datacasting in emergency situations has been demonstrated during pilot programs with public television stations in Houston, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, Washington DC and other locations. The technology was used successful by the City of Houston during the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, the NCAA Men’s Final Four Basketball Tournament, and flooding response and recovery efforts.
Butler said datacasting is a crucial tool for helping improve situational awareness and deliver information quickly and effectively in small and large scale emergency situations.
“Public safety is an essential mission of America’s public television stations, together with education and civic leadership, and this landmark agreement with the Department of Homeland Security is an important step forward in the pursuit of this mission,” Butler stated.