California fires: smart speakers and emergency alerts
sean at donelan.com
Thu Jul 26 16:11:36 UTC 2018
After wildfires killed 40+ people in northern California last fall, I
asked if Amazon and Google had any plans to include emergency alerts
in their smart speaker/intelligent assistant products. Smart speakers
seem like a way to alert people to imminent life-threatening danger during
the night when they may be asleep or not aware of it.
Probably not a surprise, the product managers at Amazon and Google didn't
see a benefit. Instead of emergency alerts, instead the product
improvement roadmap priority is on package tracking and delivery alerts :-)
Also shouldn't be a surprise. Senator Schatz and Representative Gabbard
have introduced bills to study the feasibility of establishing systems
and signalling for emergency alerts to Internet audio and video streaming
services. Its just a proposed bill for a study, for now.
My opinion is it makes more sense to do emergency alerts at the smart
device level (smart speaker, smart tv, smart streaming box) rather than at
the content layer (hulu, netflix, spotify). Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
and Microsoft Cortana want to keep track of everything else in my life,
why not if there is an emergency alert at my current location.
There is a lot of opportunity to come up with better ways to notify people
in ways they want, when they want, beyond tracking their package
deliveries. And since its at the voluntary stage now, a chance to shape
To improve oversight by the Federal Communications Commission of
the wireless and broadcast emergency alert systems.
SEC. 8. ONLINE STREAMING SERVICES EMERGENCY ALERT EXAMINATION.
(a) Study.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this
Act, the Commission shall complete an inquiry to examine the feasibility
of establishing systems and signaling to offer Emergency Alert System
alerts to audio and video streaming services delivered over the internet.
(b) Report.—Not later than 90 days after completing the inquiry under
subsection (a), the Commission shall submit a report on the findings and
conclusions of the inquiry to—
(1) the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate;
(2) the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives.
More information about the NANOG