I'm currently living in the Midwest where there have been some pretty substantial storms in the past few weeks. Luckily, my friends and family weathered without substantial loss, many have not been so fortunate.
The technology in our living rooms is constantly changing, at least for many of the people I socialize with. In the past few weeks I have observed how the change in technology has affected the ability to provide severe weather alerts. I'm talking of course about watching digitally recorded TV.
Two things occurred that I have not seen in the past. First, I have talked with several people who were watching recorded TV on Media Center, TiVo, ReplayTV, or their cable box while the storms were approaching so the on-screen alerts shown on live TV were of absolutely no value to them. They went to their basements only after the storm was dangerously close. Second, for those watching anything recorded Sunday or Monday the episodes are flooded with storm warnings or in some cases blocked out completely with newscasts! The information provides no value whatsoever when viewed several days after the storms have passed.
I'm not saying that television has become a poor medium for alerting but I do believe this is a problem that changes in technology will eventually help us address. Take IPTV for example, it seems like a perfect opportunity to leave the original video stream intact but layer data on screen to a very precise audience and only while the information is relevant. Of course moving to a more effective system will take years but will hopefully be one of many unexpected results from more effective usage of data in our homes.
Until then, our old-fashioned battery-powered weather radio in the kitchen will have to do!