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FCC Votes to Improve Text Alert System

Article Comments  1  

Sep 29, 2016, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman
updated Sep 29, 2016, 10:55 AM

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.




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Oct 3, 2016, 12:20 PM

Maybe they should start with the radio alert system

Last week, was listening to the NPR FM station and got alerted on subsequent days to Amber Alerts in cities 100+ miles away from me. Now, on a typical day I immediately change the station when I hear those annoying, freaky EAS tones interrupt my radio station, because 99% of the time it's a test or a missing child, never an actual emergency. Now, on one or two particular occasions I've heard emergency alerts go out ON SELECT RADIO STATIONS when there was severe weather or tornadoes within a county or two of mine. This particular day I decided to keep my station set and happened to hear that it was an amber alert. Later that day find out that missing kids were dead by the time the alert was even issued. The next day, another child abduction ...
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