State Promotes AMBER Alert WEA Use

On March 21, 2013, in CMAS & Mobile Alerts, by with SRA International

As mentioned here on AWARE, changes were made in the past few months in the way abducted-child AMBER Alerts are delivered to cell phones and other mobile devices.  The previous Wireless AMBER Alert Program SMS-based alerts were replaced by the new Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system.  With 700,000 people having been subscribed to the previous program, a huge awareness campaign is needed to advise the public of the switch to WEA.  At least one state has taken a very proactive approach on its outreach. Continue reading »

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Who remembers CONELRAD?

On March 19, 2013, in Alerts & Warnings 101, Emergency Alert System, Social Media, by with Altus Emergency Management

Yes, the image above has two triangles. Otherwise known as “Civil Defense” symbols, they are images of the Cold War.

CONELRAD: Radio meets the Civil Defense describes the two radio channels folks would tune to listen for news and updates in the “event of an actual emergency”.

CONELRAD became the Emergency Alert System and the triangles on the AM radios on the dash of the automobiles became Cold War Relics.

That was then and this is now. Has it improved?  Today, there is competition for the message. The emergency manager is challenged with getting the word out to folks listening to their MP3 player inside a house with the windows shut and the vacuum running.

No longer does the emergency manager have two frequencies upon which to place his warning message. The emergency manager must be aware of ALL the methods is customer uses to get news and information and, yes, even entertainment.

When the emergency manager hears that the customer wants him to be on Social Media, which one of them should he use? Does he dare omit Twitter to favor Google+? Does he simply say “I’m on Facebook. If you want the message, tune there.”?

This is why warning professionals encourage folks to have THREE ways to get information. At any given time, all three will be working or two may not.

What three are you using?



Almost a year has passed since the roll-out of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA, previously known as the Commercial Mobile Alert Service, or CMAS). In this time, public safety officials (primarily the National Weather Service) have sent about 3,000 WEA messages to mobile devices. News stories on this new capability are becoming more commonplace, and more WEA-capable mobile devices are coming online. You may have even received a WEA message on your device by now.

Unfortunately, some message recipients have responded to these messages by looking for a way to turn them off—presumably because they do not perceive the alerts to be relevant to them or their local area. They then take to their phone looking for the settings menu where they can opt out of the alerts.
Continue reading »

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FCC Says CMAS is now WEA

On February 26, 2013, in CMAS & Mobile Alerts, by with SRA International

WEAYesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released Order DA 13-280, stating that the Commission is revising its Part 10 rules by changing the name Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) to Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).  These are the wireless alert system technical rules governing the participating cellular wireless carriers, which the FCC calls Commercial Mobile Service Providers (CMSPs).  This change is effective upon publication in the Federal Register. Continue reading »

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Tips on Acquiring and Using FEMA IPAWS Alert Origination Systems

On February 21, 2013, in IPAWS, News, by with SRA International
The FEMA test laboratory at the Joint Interoperability Test Center (JITC) - photo courtesy of FEMA

The FEMA test laboratory at the Joint Interoperability Test Center (JITC) – photo courtesy of FEMA

FEMA recently held a webinar giving the latest details on its Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), as well as tips for local alert originators on acquiring and using IPAWS alert origination systems.  The session also offered an update on the forthcoming alert originator test lab detailed in December here on AWARE. Continue reading »

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