Homeland Security introduces new alert system, details proper use

Homeland Security introduces new alert system, details proper use. | Courtesy of Firstresponder.gov
The First Responders website from the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate’s (DHS S&T) First Responder Group (FRG) detailed the use of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) System on Thursday.

The report states that research from the RAND Corp. and the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) team has provided important information relating to the efficacy of the system and how best to utilize it.

RAND found that the WEA system was an effective way to send out details relating to an emergency situation. Researchers with START stated that character limits are an impeding factor and can lead to crucial information being cut from alert messages.

Currently the system is based nationally, but alerts are sent based on geographic proximity of users to an area that is in an emergency or disaster situation or has the potential to be.

“[E]ven though WEA is part of a national system, the messages are geo-targeted, meaning that they are localized to the area or the vicinity that the people are in," DHS S&T First Responder Group Program Manager Denis Gusty said. “Authorized local alert originators, such as Emergency Managers, can define the area that the message is intended for. If you receive a WEA on your phone, then chances are you are in or near the area of impending disaster.”

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