Public knowledge of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) has expanded across the country since WEAs were first introduced in the U.S. in June, 2012.
WEAs are automatically disseminated on a variety of mobile devices, such as cellphones and smartphones, by cell companies via relay from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System) computer system. Tornado Warnings and Flash Flood Warnings are the most common types of NWS warnings relayed as WEAs.
Below is a message from Charles McCobb, FEMA/IPAWS Program Manager:
I wanted to let you know about newly released public education products created by the IPAWS Program Management Office (PMO), Ready.gov, and the Ad Council; these products are designed to ensure the American people understand the functions of the public alert and warning system and how to access, use, and respond to information from the public safety officials.
Many of you have forwarded questions that you receive from your citizens about Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) to the IPAWS PMO. We have taken that feedback and incorporated it into our national public education campaign, but we need your help and partnership to be successful in this effort.
Public safety announcements (PSAs) for both TV and radio have been created as a means to draw the public’s attention to WEAs and describe how they are an important lifesaving tool that public safety officials, like you, are using to ensure that the public is aware of threats to their lives and property. The PSA directs viewers to learn more about lifesaving alerts at our new webpage at Ready.gov/alerts. You should start to hear the PSA on the radio as they were released to broadcasters last week and the TV version will be released shortly. Check out the New York Times coverage of the campaign here.
Many of you already know that Ready.gov provides up-to-date information to the public on how to prepare for emergencies. Ready.gov/alerts provides information on Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), the Emergency Alert System (EAS), and NOAA’s All Hazards Radio. This webpage will hold all of the WEA PSAs for viewing as well as other helpful information for the public.
Ready.gov will also link to the IPAWS PMO’s second Emergency Management Institute (EMI) web-based training course, “IPAWS and the American People,” which will be released early this summer. The course is designed to educate the American people about the variety of alert and warning tools and technologies public safety officials can use to send them life-saving alerts. The course also has a section focused on how the public should respond when they receive an alert.
We need your help to get the word out about these tools for the public. FEMA encourages public safety officials to take full advantage of these products and work with your local broadcasters to make the WEA PSA a part of local public education campaigns by individualizing the PSA tagline, or you can circulate them as they are now. Please contact the IPAWS PMO at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Ready.gov if you are interested in incorporating this and other products into local efforts to educate the public about emergency alerts.