FCC Votes to Improve Text Alert System
The FCC today took action to improve the Wireless Emergency Alert system. Local, state, and federal governments use the system to alert people about impending threats. As it functions today, alerts are limited to 90 characters and cannot include media. Moving forward, alerts will be expanded to 360 characters and can include photos and embedded links as needed. The WEA recently came under fire for messages sent to New Yorkers in the wake of the recent bombings. Many felt the text alerts didn't include enough information, such as a photo of the suspect. "We can do more with these messages," said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel during today's proceedings. "Vague directives in text about where to find more information about a suspect — just as we saw in New York — are not good enough." The FCC will work to narrow down the geographic areas to which messages are sent, as well as add more detail to emergency messages. Further, messages will be broken into separate groups, such as those containing general information and other, more specific advisories such as to boil water or to evacuate an area. Wireless providers will also be required to push alerts in Spanish. The technology change was first proposed last year and has been under study since. Today's vote to adopt more advanced tools will eventually lead to better emergency alerts. Carriers have a full year to implement the new technology.
Google Maps and Google Search Debut SOS Function
Google today announced its Google Maps and Google Search apps will soon show critical information regarding natural and other disasters that may strike. The SOS Alerts, as they are called, will appear at the top of search results and within maps as people look for information concerning the disasters or impacted areas.
Twitter Brings Read Receipts, Link Previews to DMs
Twitter today said it is enriching Direct Messages with more real-time tools. Moving forward, Direct Messages will be more dynamic than before thanks to read receipts, typing indicators, and web link previews.
FCC Proposes Updates to Emergency Alerts
The FCC wants to see wireless emergency alerts used more effectively and proposed several changes to improve them. Wireless emergency alerts have been used since 2012 to warn people about severe weather or other safety threats, alert them to missing children, and deliver other information via text messages.
More Carriers and Phone Makers Agree to Adopt Google's RCS-Based 'Android Messages' Service
Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts.
Wireless Users May Eventually Receive Government 'Blue Alerts'
The FCC has added a new type of alert to the Emergency Alert System that is specifically meant for law enforcement officers and other first responders. Joining the Amber Alert and Silver Alert, the new Blue Alert can be used by state and local authorities to notify the public of threats to law enforcement and request help in apprehending suspects.
Maybe they should start with the radio alert system