Back in the old days, two-way radios were the only way security personnel communicated with each other. This week, as part of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the nation’s next generation of emergency alert and warning networks, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the adoption of the design specifications for the development of a gateway interface that will enable wireless carriers to provide its customers with timely and accurate emergency alerts and warnings via their cell phones and other mobile devices. The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) is one of many projects within IPAWS intended to provide emergency mangers and the President of the United States a means to send alerts and warnings to the public. Specifically, CMAS provides Federal, state, territorial, tribal and local government officials the ability to send 90 character geographically targeted text messages to the public regarding emergency alert and warning of imminent threats to life and property, Amber alerts, and Presidential emergency messages. The CMAS is a combined effort of the federal government and cellular providers to define a common standard for cellular alerts. Today’s announcement marks the beginning of the 28-month period, mandated by the FCC in August 2008, for commercial mobile service providers who have elected to participate in the design specifications known as CMAS to develop, test and deploy the system and deliver mobile alerts to the public by 2012. “Working as a team with our partners in the public and private sectors, the adoption of the CMAS standard brings us even closer to making the nation’s next-generation of emergency alerts and warnings – Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) – a reality,” said FEMA’s Administrator. “Our goal is simple, to give one message over more devices to more people for maximum safety.”

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