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Wireless Emergency Alert System Implementation


By: Vic Ferrera, Nevada County Office of Emergency Services

June 15, 2012 - The Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act of 2006 authorized DHS and FCC to develop a Commercial Mobile Alert Service. As a result of the WARN Act, the National Weather Service (NWS) is scheduled to start making their most critical alerts available to the Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA) beginning June 18, 2012.

WEA (sometimes referred to as IPAWS and CMAS) allows public safety authorities to send geographically targeted, text-like alerts to the public. The WEA will relay Presidential, AMBER, and Imminent Threat (severe weather) warnings to WEA capable mobile phones. To see if your phone is WEA capable, please contact your mobile phone provider. Eventually all newer-model phones will be WEA capable.

Alert messages will be sent to only those within a targeted area (usually county specific). This means that if you are vacationing in an area outside of your county of residence you will receive alert messages specific to the county you are vacationing in.

While these alerts will appear on a person's mobile device similar to a text message, WEAs are not text messages. Instead, WEA uses a different kind of technology to ensure they are delivered immediately and are not subject to potential congestion (or delays) on wireless networks. A unique tone and vibration will also be received.

Mobile users will not be charged for receiving these alerts and are automatically enrolled to receive them. Users may opt out of receiving all alert messages except for Presidential messages. Users must contact their mobile service provider for instructions on opting out of the service for their specific mobile device.

Currently for Nevada County, alerts will be originated from either the NWS or FEMA.

For additional detailed information, contact your mobile phone service provider or visit one of these websites: http://ctia.org/ http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions on WEA, visit the Nevada County OES website at http://www.mynevadacounty.com/nc/igs/oes/


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