Alerts & Notifications

What's an Imminent Threat Alert via WEA?

Questions answered about when local and state authorities can issue Wireless Emergency Alerts

by Rick Wimberly / September 16, 2013

The list continues to steadily grow of agencies across the country going through the process of becoming alerting authorities through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).   What are they really signing up for? 

In a nutshell, they’ll be given authority to issue alerts through IPAWS and its initiatives, such as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).  Local and state agencies with alerting authority have a good bit of discretion over the alerts they send via WEA.  In fact, FEMA will not check them for content, but rather for meeting technical requirements.  However, by regulation, WEA messages sent by local and state authorities must be consider Imminent Threat messages.  That means the alert must meet a minimum value for each of the three Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) elements of Urgency, Severity, and Certainty.

Urgency         

  •  “Immediate” - Responsive action should be taken immediately
  • “Expected” - Responsive action should be taken soon (within next hour)

Severity        

  • “Extreme” - Extraordinary threat to life or property
  • “Severe” - Significant threat to life or property

Certainty 

  • “Observed” – Determined to have occurred or to be ongoing
  • “Likely” - Probability is greater than or equal to 50%

Local and state authorities can get information on the sign up process through a short Youtube video Galain posted.  And, there’s a great deal of information on the FEMA IPAWS website at http://www.fema.gov/integrated-public-alert-warning-system.  

All the best, 

Rick