We’ve all heard it numerous times on radio or television – the distinctive noise and message for the test of the emergency broadcast system. It interrupts what we’re doing for a minute to condition us to listen in the event of an actual emergency. Technology has enabled implementation of another communications tool to alert citizens of danger – Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) delivered right to your hand-held device. One could think of it as an Emergency Alert upgrade.
This system delivers text-like messages to citizens who have WEA-capable mobile devices, and can literally be life-saving. The technology works differently than text messaging. Messages authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are accompanied by an audible tone and are delivered immediately without being subject to wireless network congestion. If you have employees who travel the country, this system uses technology that can notify them to an imminent manmade danger or a natural disaster like a flood, hurricane, or tornado. It has a point-to-multipoint system and can quickly notify everyone across the nation in one huge reach or target specific geographic areas. Say a co-worker lives in Washington, D.C., but is doing business in Kansas; the technology recognizes his location and alerts him to take shelter from an approaching tornado. The WEA system is also used for amber alerts and presidential alerts.
You can determine if the phones you deploy are WEA-capable by searching your carrier’s website for “wireless emergency alerts.” It is also easy to look on the devices themselves. For example, on an iPhone, go to settings, notifications, and government alerts to manage. This is an easy add to employee safety and security measures, whether they are working locally or traveling.
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