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SiriusXM partners with FEMA on emergency alerts

A satellite built for SiriusXM Pandora. (Image courtesy Maxar Technologies/SiriusXM Pandora)
A satellite built for SiriusXM Pandora. (Image courtesy Maxar Technologies/SiriusXM Pandora)

Satellite and streaming audio provider SiriusXM is partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on an emergency notification initiative.

The partnership will see SiriusXM giving FEMA access to secure bandwidth on its satellite network, which will enable FEMA to have greater connectivity between the agency and the National Public Warning System, or NPWS.

The bandwidth adds to FEMA’s network of 77 radio broadcast stations that provide national emergency alert notifications to the public. SiriusXM has distributed emergency notifications on a national level since 2005, and became a partner of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) in 2018.

“A secure, trusted, capable and reliable technology ecosystem is the foundation of the IPAWS NPWS capability,” Antwane Johnson, the director of FEMA IPAWS, said in a statement on Tuesday. “IPAWS embraces innovative technologies and platforms, and SiriusXM’s satellite network helps reinforce our capabilities.”

Bridget Neville, the senior vice president and general manager of signal distribution engineering at SiriusXM, said the satellite-based connection will serve as a backup for FEMA’s core communication systems with respect to emergency notifications.

“SiriusXM has worked extensively with FEMA over the years, and we are proud of our efforts that aid in delivering critical emergency messages to the public,” Neville said. “e look forward to deepening and expanding upon our relationship with FEMA through this program and additional opportunities to leverage our satellite network in the future.”

The partnership comes at a time when terrestrial radio broadcasters are fighting with electric vehicle makers to preserve access in newer cars to an older technology: AM radio. Broadcasters and federal lawmakers alike have suggested that losing AM radio in electric vehicles could create a public safety calamity, because citizens would not have a reliable way to receive timely emergency notifications during severe weather and other incidents.

But there are other methods to receive those same emergency notifications, including mobile phones, nearly all of which offer IPAWS alerts. The SiriusXM partnership with FEMA only further proves that AM radio is not the sole mechanism to receive emergency alerts.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).