Security systems including electronic access controls and video now deliver alert data to laptops, PDAs and smartphones. And in a nationwide plan, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in effort to enhance the nation’s emergency broadcast system, convened stakeholders from all dimensions of the alerts and warnings community recently to determine the next steps to implementing the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS). 

“Early warning is integral to the health and wellbeing of both people and property across our nation,” said Dr. David Boyd, director, Command, Control and Interoperability Division (CID) of the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate. “Through this inaugural CMAS Forum, CID has effectively begun laying the groundwork for a more effective solution and for making the system a reality for the American public.”

Since they were first developed, public alert and warning systems have primarily consisted of messages that interrupt regular broadcasts over television and radio to provide emergency information. With well over 80 percent of the American population subscribing to commercial mobile services, CID is working under a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to enable and enhance a national capability to deliver geographically targeted, timely, and effective alert messages to mobile devices. 

The forum brought together key stakeholders to build a coalition of local, state, Federal, industry and non-governmental organizations, develop a shared understanding of the CMAS research, development, test and evaluation efforts, and identify important next steps. This is the first time a group of this magnitude and specialty has convened to address CMAS since the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Commercial Mobile Service Alert Advisory Committee (CMSAAC) held its final meeting in late 2007.