General Motors recently announced a new addition to its line of vehicles: a pedestrian detection system that uses a peer-to-peer wireless technology to alert the driver to nearby pedestrians in hopes of avoiding deadly collisions. Essentially, this system will allow the car’s onboard computer to detect wi-fi signals from surrounding wireless devices. As the image below illustrates, these signals could be used to warn the driver of pedestrians heading near the vehicle. Presumably the technology would also enable the pedestrian’s device to warn him/her of oncoming cars.

General Motors wifi direct pedestrian detection system Continue reading »

Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) Myths: Part 1

On February 21, 2012, in CMAS & Mobile Alerts, by with SRA International

In our conversations about the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) with the general public, public safety officials, the wireless communications industry, and local, state, and Federal Government staffers, we’ve heard about many of the myths and misconceptions that exist about CMAS – how it works, who is running it, and what members of the public will see once CMAS is deployed in April 2012. (We reported last week on some large-scale testing of CMAS, which sparked fears and confusion about this new system based on inaccurate information.)

This post is the first of two addressing some common myths and misconceptions about CMAS. Stay tuned for the second post, which will discuss another five aspects of CMAS that are commonly misunderstood.  Continue reading »

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WEA LogoIn the weeks since the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) Test in NYC occurred, we here at AWARE have been hearing from emergency managers and others in the emergency management community that they would like to know more about CMAS. There seems to be a good deal of uncertainty about what CMAS is, how it works and what it means for them. So we thought a little CMAS “101″ would be in order. Continue reading »

Today Sprint publicly announced the launch of a new functionality for its network: Wireless Emergency Alerts, which is the term many wireless carriers are using for the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) / Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN). The announcement comes as FEMA prepares for the nationwide deployment of CMAS in April 2012. Sprint describes the WEA/CMAS capability as follows:

Wireless Emergency Alerts allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to accept and deliver warning messages to wireless networks from the president of the United States, the National Weather Service and state and local emergency operations centers. Sprint customers will be able to effectively and accurately receive warnings and safety information via text alerts to mobile phones that are equipped with the enabling software and based on their geographic location. Continue reading »

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While vacationing with her family at the beach this summer, one of our AWARE editors experienced first-hand a prime situation in which alerts to mobile devices–like those that will be enabled by the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS)–will be critical. But with a goal of reaching as many members of the public as possible, the limitations of CMAS were equally as evident. Continue reading »