emergency responders in Hurricane Harvey U.S Border Patrol riverine agents launch an air boat in a Houston, Texas suburb as they evacuate residents in the flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey . photo by Glenn Fawcett

FCC Approves Enhanced Geo-Targeting for Emergency Alerts

Public safety officials have applauded the approval of advanced geo-targeting for wireless emergency alerts.

The FCC has mandated that wireless operators must deliver WEA alerts to the target area specified by the alert originator, with no more than a one-tenth of a mile overshoot from November 2019. It also says that alert messages must remain available in a consumer accessible format on wireless devices for 24 hours, which will enable the public to better review emergency information.

Public safety officials have been campaigning for these changes for some time, saying that disasters such as last year’s hurricanes and Californian wildfires highlight the need to use existing GPS technology within phones, to warn of danger.

Francisco Sanchez, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator at the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management said:  “The timeline to get better geographic targeting in place by November 2019 is critical and utilizing the built-in technology of the mobile device is the quickest way to meet this goal.”

National public safety organisations including APCO, Big City Emergency Managers, International Association of Emergency Managers, National Emergency Management Association, the United States Conference of Mayors, and the National Emergency Number Association have also stated their support for the rule changes.

Commissioner Clyburn, from the FCC also reiterated the May 2019 deadline for participating wireless providers to support Spanish-language messages and increase the length of alerts from 90 to 360 characters.

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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