Coverage of the rollout of the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS, also known as Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA), is getting more attention these days. We have seen articles from Mobile Health News, Ubergizmo, Mobile Burn, and a slew of local news outlets. Perhaps the biggest coverage came last night from NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams. The short video clip is below:
The surge of news appears to be spurred by coverage in USA Today, including quotes from CTIA – The Wireless Association (the trade group representing wireless carriers that play a vital role in the delivery of CMAS messages) and the National Weather Service.
This increasing publicity for CMAS is undoubtedly a good thing. What we know from social science is that the public must trust an emergency alert if they are to take prescribed action. This requires first and foremost understanding what CMAS is and that it exists in the first place. As we have reported previously, fear and concern can spread when people receive an alert without any prior awareness of this capability. When an emergency arises, if people are aware of this mobile alert capability, they will be more likely to take action without hesitation or confusion.