Alerts & Notifications

The Weather Channel to Make Emergency Alert Tool Available

The Weather Channel is going to make its vast network available to local public safety for emergency alerting.

by Rick Wimberly / October 23, 2014

How’s this for another tool for local public safety to use for emergency alerting: the Weather Channel’s huge network? The Weather Channel people are working on a tool that will allow local public safety agencies to issue alerts through a 195-million strong network of devices and applications.

The Weather Channel’s parent company, the Weather Company, is developing an interface for local public safety agencies to send alerts to the popular Weather Channel apps and websites, and maybe cable TV. The interface would also allow public safety to, you guessed it, see lots of weather information that could be used to evaluate threats.  

The alerts would not be restricted to weather situations. They could be activated for any other local emergency.

Product Management Director Jason Geer says the Weather Company’s app is the No. 1 weather app on the iPhone and iPad. He says the Weather Company “has become a part of people’s routine,” thus has naturally strong potential for alerts.

There are several caveats:

  1. The alerting tool will only be available to public safety agencies that have signed up as an alerting authority under the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
  2. Local authorities will not be able to activate alerts for weather events when the National Weather Service (NWS) has already activated for that event. If a tornado warning is issued, the alert will be automatically activated via NWS and local authorities won’t need to activate it anyway.  
  3. The application is not quite available yet. Geer says the company hopes to have the product in beta by the end of this year.

Now, you’re probably wondering, how much will it cost? Right now, it looks like there will be no charge for local agencies. Geer says they want to make it available without expense to communities, although there could be a charge for helping integrate the Weather Company’s alerting tool to other alerting tools.

Geer says the company always considers safety first and foremost when helping the public get messages, and admits incorporating alerts into the company’s offerings will generate “good stories and celebrations for timely responses and getting ahead of the curve for when things happen.”

This is yet another tool for system-of-system alerting made possible by the Common Alerting Protocol.