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FCC Aims to Improve Wireless Emergency Alerts

In efforts to strengthen emergency communications, the FCC released a Noticed of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) In the Matter of Improving Wireless Emergency Alerts and Community Initiated Alerting [PS Docket No. 15-91].  Some of the main issues on which the NPRM is seeking stakeholder input include:

  • Increasing the maximum WEA character length from 90 characters to 360 characters;
  • Adding a fourth message type, “Emergency Governmental Information” which would allow for alerting  authorities to send out information concerning shelter locations, boil water advisories and other pertinent life and property saving information that comes in the wake of an initial emergency message;
  • The technical feasibility of the provision of multilingual WEA messages; and
  • Revising the rules to require the geotargeting of WEA messages to be more precise.

Additionally, the FCC would like to know if and how these, and other proposed changes would improve the accessibility of WEA messages to people with disabilities. Once the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, stakeholders (e.g. the public, mobile phone manufactures and service providers, organizations representing the interests of people with disabilities, academics, emergency managers, etc.) will have 30 days to submit comments and 60 days to submit reply comments.

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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.