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FCC, Emergency Groups Propose WEA Changes

Groups want improvements by spring 2019

WASHINGTON � The head of the Federal Communications Commission has proposed a series of improvements to the nation�s Wireless Emergency Alert system that are designed to better target alerts to specific geographic areas.

On Jan 8, Chairman Ajit Pai teased that a forthcoming proposal would offer several proposed changes, including that wireless carriers participating in the Wireless Emergency Alert program would be able to deliver alerts in a more geographically targeted manner.

�Emergency officials across America have told the FCC how important it is to better pinpoint these alerts to impacted communities,� Pai said in the release. �This would encourage more local officials to use these alerts during emergencies as well as lead Americans to take more seriously the alerts they receive on their mobile devices.�

The proposal is expected to be considered at the FCC�s Jan. 30 Open Meeting. The draft of this proposal will be released publicly on Jan. 9.

The move comes a few days after a cadre of emergency management groups asked the FCC to expedite improvements to the nation�s Wireless Emergency Alert system. The group which includes mayors and several national emergency management groups pressed for enhancements that include improved geotargeting, multimedia alerting, many-to-one feedback, and multilingual alerting.

In light of recent emergencies, the group said, these new improvements should be instituted no later than May 2019. This gives the industry more than a year to implement solutions that have already been thoroughly discussed, the group said. �Going beyond May 2019 puts our community at risk for more dry seasons /storm seasons that claim lives. The time to act is now.�

The letter was signed by the U.S. Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers, the National Emergency Management Association, the National Emergency Number Association, the United States Conference of Mayors, Big City Emergency Managers and the City of Seattle Office of Emergency Management.