In the future, online video and audio streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify could be used to broadcast emergency alerts in a similar way to how they are currently broadcast through smartphones. This is due to a new Bill that was introduced today by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii and U.S. Senator John Thune of South Dakota.
The Bill, the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement Act of 2018, or more simply the "READI Act," looks to specifically address the current issues surrounding exposure to these alerts. With the press announcement drawing on the recent Hawaii missile alert as a case in point, stating that while some people did receive the alert on their phones, others who were tuning in to the TV and radio missed it. While that particular alert was a false alarm, the announcement explains it has since raised the issue of where the system currently fails by not accounting for the newer ways in which users engage with TV and radio. Namely, through online video and audio streaming services.
In reality, the Bill proposed is far more concerned with the latter point — addressing the current system failings in general — and only states the use of online streaming services as an additional means to deliver emergency alerts is to be 'explored.' Therefore, if the bipartisan Bill is approved, there is no guarantee this will automatically result in streaming services having to deliver these alerts. It simply will open the door for those in power to look at the possibility of adopting this measure, and if adopted – how it might be implemented. Although, the bill if passed will likely lead to some more fundamental changes to the current system, such as the establishing of "best practices" and an increase in the number of times alerts are broadcast through traditional TVs to ensure they not missed through the current single-use approach. In either case, as the Bill, and its changes are primarily designed to ensure more lives are saved when in times of crisis, it seems logical to assume the more ways in which alerts can be effectively delivered, will be a good thing.