Wildfires: Reminder smart devices don't include emergency warnings while streaming

As some of the largest wildfires burn along the West Coast, and over 500,000 people evacuate, a reminder that streaming devices do not include local emergency alerts. Cord-cutters using Alphabet Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV "smart" devices should remember they don't have emergency alerts while streaming.

FCC requires cellular phones support Wireless Emergency Alerts, including when using streaming Apps. But not in-home "smart" devices like smart TVs and smart speakers.

You should also have an traditional AM/FM or weather radio at home. And your DTV may still have a connection for an over-the-air antenna. Nevertheless, while you are watching Netflix or listening to Spotify on a non-cell phone smart device, you won't get emergency alerts on those streaming devices.

Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Alphabet Android TV executives don't see a need to support emergency alerts on their products.

Also worth noting that you won't get emergency alerts on your stove,
refrigerator, dish washer, washing machine or dryer. So, when cooking
or doing laundry make sure you have an alternate source of emergency
alerts available.

Shockingly, your alarm clock won't automatically turn on when there's
an emergency alert over the radio either nor will your smoke and fire
alarms go off except in the immediate presence of smoke and fire, so
be sure to have an always-on source of alerts while you're sleeping

tl;dr: keep your cell phone on and with you 'cause only a few things
get emergency alerts and only when they're turned on.

Bill Herrin

Linking relevant past thread about devices that don’t alert for emergencies and, of course, a heated debate on if they should:


Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Alphabet Android TV executives don’t see a
need to support emergency alerts on their products.

You can enable severe weather alerts on both google home and Alexia. But I get the point.

You sound like the CTIA in the 2000s when it was opposed to requiring emergency alerts on cell phones. "Its unnecessary to require cell phones have emergency alerts, because people get emergency alerts other ways."

The problem was all the consumer electronic industry groups always point at "someone else." The cable industry said it was unnecessary in the 1980s because local TV stations had emergency alerts. The TV industry said it was unnecessary in the 1970s because local radio stations had emergency alerts. Etc. etc. etc.

The reason your cell phone has emergency alerts, is the FCC required them.

At least cell phones have a reliable way to know where they are at any given moment. Would you really trust providers sending out emergency notifications based on something like GeoIP or based on the zipcode on the account?

I would trust it more than not getting an alert.
Especially if it started with something along the lines of “There is a tornado warning for Springfield and North Haberbrook” and I had enough brain cells to know what city I was in.


Yo ITechGeek!

At least cell phones have a reliable way to know where they are at any
given moment.

Only when the cell towers are working. Early on in the Santiam Fire
the cell towers went down early. With the telephone poles.

The Santiam Canyon is steep and narrow, the telco feed up the river was
an early single point of failure.

Ditto for the fire on the Holiday Farm fire on the Mckenzie river.


Isn’t this a better topic for CNet as opposed to NANOG?


Yep. I'm not naive. I keep saying something, because one day it will matter, when the CEOs claim no one said anything.

I fully expect the CEOs of Alphabet, Amazon and Apple in some future congressional hearing, after a major disaster, will follow the same script as previous CEOs from automotive, tobacco, chemical, etc. industries; that they are shocked and saddened, but no one ever said something. Later, in past cases, it will turn out someone did say something but were ignored.

True, about 100 clear-channel 50,000 watt AM radio stations still carry emergency alerts. But its not the 1950s anymore. That's not where most people spend their attention span. People are using streaming devices now.

There are cases, usually as a result of individual engineer's bad experience during a crisis, such as Google's SOS Alerts product for people already aware and actively looking for more information about a crisis.


   "Ten years ago, I was inside the Google office in Haifa, Israel when the
   devastating Carmel Mountain fire started blazing not far from us. The
   team started searching the web to learn more. And while we did find
   some details confirming what we already knew—a large fire was taking
   place outside of our door—we experienced a potentially life-impacting
   information gap. "