Emergency Alerting with different voices

Our EAS application monitors your countries' NADD stream, and if there is an emergency message that matches your alerting box, it will interrupt and play that announcement immediately. The way EAS messages play on radio, TV or cable will depend on how it was issued by the originator. Many messages are sent by Pelmorex or NAAD as an mp3 file, sometimes served from AWS. The player downloads this file and plays it on the air. If there is an mp3 file, and it doesn’t arrive (or is somehow corrupted), it will fall back and use on-board TTS engine to read out the description of the CAP alert. The quality on the on-board alerts are "technically challenged" and at best sounds like a robot reading the text.

Our latest OBPlayer has the capability of using AWS POLLY (Machine Learning AI) instead of the onboard TTS. When an alert is received, the text is sent to AWS POLLY using the various voices available on the dashboard setup. If a message comes in without an attached media, OBPlayer will first try using the POLLY service, and if it is not available, use the onboard TTS as a last resort. If the server at POLLY goes 404, or times out it switches automatically to the onboard TTS espeak application.

POLLY is a AWS service that offers a free key for basic alerting that is easily put into your player dashboard. For large network operators the cost for this AWS service starts at $4.00 USD for one million characters, enough for thousands of hours of TTS. Upon receiving and playing a valid CAP message, users of OBPlayer on a CATV head end with an image file (such as a JPEG from the alert issuer) will find it plays full screen, with a POLLY TTS of the message if there was no MP3 file sent. In the case where there was no MP3 or JPEG file in the alert, a red scroll (white text) will display with accompanying TTS.

See our latest Support documentation for POLLY Voices and instructions how to obtain a free API key.

Alert Ready Test May 5 2021   

Station English French
On-Air CFET using Polly Ai Voices  icons_grey-15.png icons_grey-15.png
Clone of CFET feed using Espeak  icons_grey-15.png icons_grey-15.png


First scheduled test using new code on OBPlayer-5 ML350 hardware platform with Polly AI voices enabled.  Received report of stations using the updated OBPlayer-4 ML210 firmware update to relay alerts on legacy equipment.

2 identical ML350 boxes, one with Polly AI language enabled, playing live on air at CFET Radio 106.7 FM – Tagish, Yukon. The other, without Polly, using onboard Espeak TTS to desktop speakers.

Alert came a couple of minutes past the scheduled time for 13:55 Pacific, with brief silence which cut in for a second,  before attention tones. This silence break (when POLLY is used) is a known issue with our code.  Date\Time set for UTC on alert player box.

The on air broadcast heard on CFET were 2 different female voices, speaking the CAP test message in English, followed by French. Levels OK, clear, maybe a slight crackle\distortion, source over modulation. Could still tell it was a computer, not robotic sounding.  In the espeak French alert, "www" didn't sound correct.  Alerts broadcast with onboard Espeak TTS wasn't very good, using Polly was clear and easily understood.  Polly pronounced the ".ca" url correctly as "dot-see-a" while espeak pronouced it as "dot-kah"

A couple of minutes after initial successful test, used our function button to replay the test alert.  It did this properly, and reported in logs it was being played a second time. This allows stations to set to the player to play the BI (Broadcast Intrusive) message the required one time, but with the option to replay this alert manually in dashboard menu, until it is either; canceled or when it is set to expire in the CAP message.

Accidentally rebooted playout computer 5 minutes after test was over. When it all came back up, it started playing the test alert. This operated correctly, simulating what would happen if there was a major power failure while a alert was in progress of playing. The alert box should replay alert once when power restored, unless the message had expired.  I used our cancel button on this alert.  It did cancel\expire immediately, but finished playing the alert while it was in progress. The alert was moved to the expired que.

Reviewing logs and alerts, both boxes behaved as they should and correctly played test alerts without any user intervention.

Alert Ready Tests - Polly Dashboard

alert_ready_tests-polly_dashboard.png

Alert Ready Tests -OBPlayer Dashboard

alert_ready_tests-obplayer_dashboard.png

CAP Alert Issued by EMO-YG through the Alert Ready emergency messaging network

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><alert xmlns="urn:oasis:names:tc:emergency:cap:1.2"><identifier>48E30C4B-0DBC-BA1B-E318-D67DB22FEDEA</identifier><sender>YukonEmergencyMeasuresOrganization</sender><sent>2021-05-05T13:57:59-07:00</sent><status>Actual</status><msgType>Update</msgType><scope>Public</scope><code>profile:CAP-CP:0.4</code><code>layer:SOREM:1.0</code><references>YukonEmergencyMeasuresOrganization,A273868D-5266-331E-EE5E-D3A1C35F224D,2021-05-05T13:55:06-07:00</references><info><language>en-CA</language><category>Other</category><event>Test Message</event><urgency>Immediate</urgency><severity>Minor</severity><certainty>Observed</certainty><eventCode><valueName>profile:CAP-CP:Event:0.4</valueName><value>testMessage</value></eventCode><effective>2021-05-05T13:57:59-07:00</effective><onset>2021-05-05T13:45:00-07:00</onset><expires>2021-05-05T14:30:00-07:00</expires><senderName>Yukon Emergency Measures Organization</senderName><headline>Test - this is a scheduled test of the Yukon Emergency Alerting System</headline><description>This is a TEST of the Yukon Emergency Alerting System, issued by Yukon EMO. If this had been an actual emergency, you would hear instructions that would assist you to protect you and your family. Visit www.yukon.ca and stay tuned to local media. This is ONLY a TEST.</description><web>https://yukon.ca/en/emergencies-and-safety</web><parameter><valueName>layer:SOREM:1.0:Broadcast_Immediately</valueName><value>Yes</value></parameter><parameter><valueName>layer:SOREM:1.0:Broadcast_Text</valueName><value>This is a TEST of the Yukon Emergency Alerting System, issued by Yukon EMO. If this had been an actual emergency, you would hear instructions that would assist you to protect you and your family. Visit www.yukon.ca and stay tuned to local media. This is ONLY a TEST.</value></parameter><parameter><valueName>layer:SOREM:2.0:WirelessImmediate</valueName><value>Yes</value><