From Galain President Rick Wimberly’s Blog “Alerts and Notifications: Best Practices For Emergency Notification Programs”

in Emergency Management Magazine

A spokesman for the mobile industry says the new national cell broadcast alert system, Wireless Emergency Alerts, (WEA) will evolve.   The 90 character message limit and geographic targeting appear to be the two areas getting attention.

Christopher Guttman-McCabe of CTIA-The Wireless Association was responding to questions at a recent Congressional hearing on the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) under which WEA operates in collaboration with the carriers.  A member of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management asked about the 90 character limits.  Guttman-McCabe said when the carriers and the government were trying to come up with WEA, they decided they needed to “walk before we run”.

The working group that proposed the rules for WEA (then called Commercial Mobile Alert System) is the FCC’s Communications, Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC).  Guttman-McCabe says the group is looking at three things:

  1. Experiences with WEA since it was first deployed in spring, 2012
  2. Technological advances
  3. Other relevant issues

In addition to the 90 character limit, an issue likely to be addressed is geographic targeting.  The official rules for WEA state that participating carriers must offer targeting to a county level.  But, Guttman-McCabe told the subcommittee that some carriers are already allowing geo-targeting to areas more precise than the county level.

Presumably, CSRIC will consider comments from the public safety community about WEA, but there was no one from the FCC or FEMA at the hearing because of the government shutdown.

All the best,