CMAS Secret Shopper: Philadelphia

On January 23, 2013, in CMAS & Mobile Alerts, by with SRA International

WEAWith the National Weather Service (NWS) issuing Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) alerts in cities and towns across the U.S. on a near-daily basis, and FEMA’s list of IPAWS Alerting Authorities growing every month, AWARE decided it was time to send our CMAS Secret Shopper to Philadelphia.

Because Philadelphia has yet to be added to FEMA’s list of IPAWS Alerting Authorities, we anticipated a lack of familiarity with CMAS, also known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). However, we were surprised and delighted to discover that three of the four big four carriers’ local retail stores were showing a bit of brotherly love to WEA/CMAS – and we just may have NWS to thank for it. Continue reading »

Are you really getting the message?

On January 2, 2013, in Alerts & Warnings 101, Social Media, by with Altus Emergency Management

James Spann, a popular Alabama meteorologist and member of the popular online program “WeatherBrains“, posted recently about the popular social media site Facebook — and its shortcomings in the severe weather alerting process.

He has noted how the warning processes must get better.  At one point, he called for every outdoor warning device (the “tornado” siren) to be burned.  He notes that too many people rely on sirens before taking action.

People need THREE ways to get weather warnings.

There are at least two providers – MyStateUSA and EmergencyEmail.org offer nationwide alerting service for free. Additionally, providers such as cel.ly offer the ability for groups to set up their own warning processes, as Craig’s Tech Blog discussed a few months back.

However, I have written on AWARE (here and here) that we should recognize and accept that social media (as anything technological) will have flaws.  In other words, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, have all gone down at one point or another.  Even sirens break.

More than one avenue for warnings is necessary. Three ways of getting severe weather warnings is the only option for the prepared citizen.  Social media, even Facebook, can serve in this area, of course. Even the trusty Amateur Radio can come to play here.

What are your three ways to get severe weather warnings?  Is the All-Hazards Weather Radio one of them?

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Update on IPAWS and CMAS Usage

On November 16, 2012, in CAP, CMAS & Mobile Alerts, IPAWS, by with SRA International

In a mid-November FEMA webinar, the alert and warning community received an update on the extensive use of the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) by the National Weather Service (NWS) over the last several months and an encouraging report from FEMA on the growing number of alert originators and alert origination service developers that continue to request connection to FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

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Do you have FM in your cellphone?

On July 13, 2012, in CMAS & Mobile Alerts, General, News, by with SRA International

A lot of us don’t give having an FM radio receiver in our mobile device a second thought, but for those caught up in the recent storms and ensuing power outages having FM available in their cellphones could have been a lifeline. So says the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which has been advocating for FM in mobile devices for years.

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EAS-CAP: Dawn of a New Era

On June 29, 2012, in CAP, Emergency Alert System, IPAWS, by with SRA International

Tomorrow, June 30, 2012, is the official FCC deadline when broadcasters and cable operators must have equipment installed to receive EAS alerts in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) format and must be monitoring for CAP alerts from FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). So how are we doing?

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