Saving Lives with NWS Activation of Wireless Alerts

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 4:15 PM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Michael Gerber, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD; and R. Bunge and H. L. White

NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation is about building community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather and water events. On June 28, 2012, the National Weather Service (NWS) began disseminating its most critical warnings to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) for broadcast on Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) capable cell phones. NWS activation of WEA has been credited by emergency managers and news organizations for saving many lives particularly during tornadoes.

WEA represents an innovative partnership where the Federal Government, commercial wireless industry, emergency management community, and academia are working together to save lives. During 2014, extensive meetings were held to identify how advances in technology, social science, and impact-based warning could be leveraged to improve public response to WEA over the next 5 to 10 years.

This paper will describe some of the techniques being used to improve NWS messaging over WEA, potential changes to WEA over the coming years, and the challenges ahead. Continued improvement to alert and warning technologies, social science, and best practices will lead to improved warning services with fewer lives lost during dangerous environmental conditions.

Supplementary URL: http://weather.gov/wirelessalerts