Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wireless Emergency Alerts: What it means to you

The wireless industry joined the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to offer a robust and reliable wireless emergency alert system - Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).  They are not text messages, rather these alerts use a different kind of technology to ensure immediate delivery on wireless networks.  There are three types of WEA: Presidential Alerts, Imminent Threat Alerts (i.e. natural disasters), and AMBER Alerts.  Consumers may opt out of Imminent Threat and AMBER alerts, but not Presidential Alerts.  Alerts are location-specific using a point-to-multipoint system, so messages will be sent to those within a targeted area.  If traveling into an affected area after the original alert has been issued, messages will still be received as they are re-broadcast throughout the duration of the alert time.

Weather-related alerts from the National Weather Service will include the following:


Who receives the alerts?  It all depends on carrier and device.  Right now, there are a limited number of phones that offer this capability.

Here is the current availability of WEA on major carrier networks.  More phones are expected to be added during 2012 through software updates, including the popular Apple iPhone, with iOS 6 expected to be released in the fall.  For Apple users, I still recommend installing the iMap Weather Radio app ($9.99).  It is well worth the money, and includes extras, such as five-day forecasts, radar, and tropical system tracking.


  • Samsung Galaxy SII (SGH-i777)
  • Samsung Captivate Glide (SGH-i927)
  • Motorola Atrix 2 (mb865)


  • Sanyo Inuendo
  • Sanyo Vero
  • Sanyo Milano
  • HTC EVO 3D
  • Samsung Galaxy SII 4G Touch
  • LG Marque
  • Kyocera DuraMax
  • Kyocera Duracore
  • Kyocera Brio
  • Samsung Trender
  • HTC EVO Design 4G
  • Samsung Transform Ultra.


  • Droid X by Motorola
  • Droid 2™ by Motorola
  • Droid 2 Global
  • Droid Pro by Motorola
  • Droid RAZR by Motorola
  • Droid RAZR MAXX by Motorola
  • Motorola Bionic LTE by Motorola
  • LG Cosmos™ 2
  • LG Revere™
  • LG Enlighten™
  • Lucid™ by LG
  • Verizon Jest 2
  • Samsung Convoy™ 2

With the increased usage of smartphones, this is another vital way to receive real-time weather alerts.  The Shakopee Valley News recently published an editorial regarding not relying on sirens to stay safe.  This is a point I have been making all year.  We need as many safety nets as possible.  Cell phones have a battery, and will work in power outages (granted it has a charge), whereas outdoor sirens will not.  NOAA Weather Radio, with a battery backup feature, is another option.  While this technology will alert for approaching storms, the downfall is that it operates under a county-based system.  This leads to the possibility of being awaken at night to storms in your county, but not necessarily approaching or affecting your location within the county.  While we are heading past the peak of severe weather season, now is the time to prepare for the remainder of the summer.


No comments:

Post a Comment