Technology That Keeps Us Safe: Wireless Emergency Alerts

Although Florida was spared a hit from Issac, we did get a lot of rain. And when there are rain bands stemming from a hurricane, there is bound to be some severe weather as well. While I am pretty calm in the face of severe weather (hello, I grew up in Florida), I do like to stay-up-to-date with weather updates. But keeping the weather channel on tends to make my four year old paranoid (especially in the wake of the tornado that touched down this summer at my parents’ house).

So instead of watching the weather, we hung out in the play room practicing writing her letters while it poured outside. From the other side of the house, I heard an unusual ringing. It sounded like an emergency alert ring, but I was sure the TV was off… I headed off to investigate.

The TV was off. Could that sound have come from my phone?

It sure did. My Samsung Galaxy S III sent me a text alert letting me know there was severe weather in my area. But this was no ordinary text message, the notification came with a special forced tone alert that overrode my volume setting. How smart is that?!

When I turned on my phone I found a message from the National Weather Service alerting me to a tornado warning in the area. I turned on the TV, and sure enough a tornado warning had just been issued.  Now that’s the way technology should work!

Screenshot Emergency Alert Samsung Galaxy S3

The Samsung Galaxy S III is connected to the new Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS).

CMAS (also known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) or Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN)) is a new public safety system that allows customers who own an enabled mobile device to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. The new technology ensures that emergency alerts will not get stuck in highly congested user areas, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services.CMAS enables government officials to target emergency alerts to specific geographic areas through cell towers (e.g. lower Manhattan), which pushes the information to dedicated receivers in CMAS-enabled mobile devices. Learn more about CMAS from the FTC.

Verizon Wireless Ambassador

2 thoughts on “Technology That Keeps Us Safe: Wireless Emergency Alerts”

  1. I just upgraded my phone a few weeks ago and we had our first weather alert in the area last week too! I was surprised by it at first… but love it… my only thing will be that we often get alerts for things that do not affect us because our county is so large, and I worry about being woken up in the middle of the night by it… but if it saves even one life… I’m all for it!


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