FCC Votes to Improve Emergency Smartphone Alerts With Longer Character Limits, Link Support
Emergency alerts delivered to iPhones and other smartphones to warn customers about poor weather conditions, missing children, local crime, and more, may soon feature support for web links, photos, phone numbers, and longer message content.
The United States Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to expand emergency alerts from 90 to 360 characters on 4G and LTE networks, and to include support for links so people can follow up to get more information about an unfolding situation. As it stands, emergency alerts are short in length and often offer no resources for people to get in contact with emergency personnel if necessary.
Wireless providers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile send these alerts and will be required to update their systems with support for the new features that have been mandated by the FCC.
"Vague directives in text about where to find more information about a suspect, just as we saw in New York, are not good enough," said Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner. "As we move into the 5G future, we need to ensure that multimedia is available in all of our alert messages."
Carriers will also need to start supporting the transmission of Spanish language alerts and introduce a new type of safety alert designed to send "Emergency Governmental Information" like the locations of emergency shelters or an order to boil water before drinking.
The FCC's decision follows criticism of the emergency alert system after alerts were sent out in New York and New Jersey asking citizens to help track down a man suspected of setting off bombs in the area. The alert included a message advising people to "See media for pic," highlighting its shortcomings. It is not clear when the new rules will go into effect.
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If you do leave the alerts on, and get the thankfully rare alert that interrupts your day, it might also help to remember the little girl,"Amber" behind the program and realize how successful the program has been in saving children. Amber Hagerman was a little 9-year-old girl who was abducted while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and was later found murdered. RIP. The Amber Alert program named in her honor has now led to finding 800 abducted children. Here's a link to those success stories that is updated regularly:
All that said, these programs need to continue to be refined and people should obviously continue to have the choice to mute or turn these off. Hopefully, the Emergency Broadcast alert program will continue to offer more customization as to types of alerts you want, weather, crime, etc., as well method, silent, vibrate, etc., and time of day, etc.
[doublepost=1475169921][/doublepost] Yeah it's pretty retarded, and the only settings are "WAKE UP NOW NUCLEAR ATTACK" loud or OFF. Oh well, off it is...
Reminds me of the official state-controlled roadside message signs, that were supposed to only be for warning about exceptional driving-related conditions, that now say things like "there's a drought, conserve water" - yes, that's good to know (as if it wasn't obvious), but did you, the folks in charge of road safety, really think that having me divert my attention from driving to read that message about water conservation was somehow making driving safer? (Yeah, it's the agencies involved getting bit by the "when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" bug - thinking it'd be a shame if their new toy wasn't getting used - when it'd be better if showed nothing, or perhaps something very quick to parse, like a big check mark, if there wasn't an exceptional driving-related condition to report, so people would know that reading it really was important if/when some message was displayed.)
On a related note, I have an app on my phone (QuakeFeed ('https://appsto.re/us/sXDby.i')) set up to alert on any earthquakes nearby, or large ones anywhere in the world. Partly because I live in California, but also just because it's interesting - it makes a non-intrusive but distinct alert noise that works quite well. I tend to know about major quakes a bit before the major news sources report them.