FCC Improves Wireless Emergency Alert Messages

The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted a series of rules aimed at improving its Wireless Emergency Alert or WEA messages.

[Above image by the FCC]

The new rules will make WEA messages available in more than a dozen additional languages, including American Sign Language, whereby at present those messages are only available in English and Spanish.

The FCC said in a statement that participating wireless providers are to support this expanded multilingual alerting by enabling mobile devices to display message templates that will be preinstalled and stored on the mobile device.

In addition, to help personalize emergency alerts, FCC said its new WEA rules require participating wireless providers to support the inclusion of maps in WEA messages that show the alert recipient’s location relative to the geographic area where the emergency is occurring.  The agency is also establishing an FCC-hosted database to provide the public with easy-to-access information on WEA availability as well.

The FCC noted that wireless providers will now be required to supply information on whether they participate in WEA and, if so, the extent of WEA availability in their service area and on the mobile devices that they sell – improving the awareness on the part of both alerting authorities and the public regarding WEA availability in their community.

Lastly, to support more effective WEA performance and public awareness, the FCC is now requiring alerting authorities to send two local WEA tests per year that the public receives by default, provided that the alerting authority takes steps to ensure that the public is aware that the test is, in fact, only a test.

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