In December 2012, changes were made in the way abducted-child AMBER Alerts are delivered to cell phones and other mobile devices.  In mid-December, AMBER Alert distribution began through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS).  As part of this change, alerts delivered via the long-established Wireless AMBER Alert Program were ended on December 31, 2012.  But should this move have been made at this time? Continue reading »

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Two Steps Forward: How Local Broadcasters can Carry the Most Critical Emergency Alerts

On March 8, 2012, in Emergency Alert System, by with Remote Possibilities / Broadcast Warning Working Group

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Alert System (EAS) Notice of Inquiry (NOI) proposed rule changes that included a call for requiring broadcasters and cable operators to carry local and state emergency warnings. This provision is commonly referred to as “Governor Must Carry” (GMC). Currently, the only mandatory EAS messages in the FCC’s rules are those issued by the President.[1]

One reason GMC was put into that NOI was because of complaints that governors were not using the EAS to tell traffic fleeing from events like Hurricane Ike that all highways were converted to head north.  Another reason: In Texas, instead of using EAS for the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the governor convened a news conference where reporters asked if AMBER (Child Abduction) alerts could be used to warn people about touching pieces of the fallen shuttle. Other instances of failures to originate proper warnings, or misuse of proper warning protocols are in the record.

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What Does Google Public Alerts Teach Us?

On February 29, 2012, in General, by with SRA International

Google Public Alerts and Its Features Out of the Box

You may recall that on January 25, 2012, the Google Crisis Response (GCR) team at launched the Google Public Alerts (GPA) platform.  GPA aggregates weather, public safety, and earthquake alerts from US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service (NWS), and the US Geological Survey (USGS) and displays the alerts on Google Maps Figure 1. Continue reading »

The New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) today announced that it will conduct a test of the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS, also known as the Personal Localized Alerting Network or Wireless Emergency Alerts) with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, and Federal Communications Commission this Thursday, December 15th.

According to the press release (full text below this post), wireless carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon will participate in the test, in which OEM will send six test messages to test mobile devices across New York City between 10am and 3pm on Thursday. Continue reading »

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This post is Part 2 of 3 in a series of reports on the recent annual conference of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) held November 13-16 in Clark County, Nevada. See also Part 1 on CAP and Part 3 on Federal presentations at IAEM.

The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) is a service coming online in April 2012 that will broadcast emergency alerts to all cell phones in an affected area without the need for prior sign-up. The FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) booth had a significant focus on CMAS, noting that while the full deployment will be in April there will be an early rollout of CMAS in NYC and DC.
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