Submitted by Thurston County
Thurston County has been accepted as one of 42 state and local government agencies to work with the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, to assess the geographic accuracy of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) in areas across the country. The test in Thurston County is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12, 2022.
Thurston County Emergency Management is accepting volunteers to help administer the test and collect data. Please contact Sonya Kroese at firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, Sept. 8, if you’re interested in volunteering.
“Wireless Emergency Alerts are a life-saving tool, but emergency managers tell us that they need more information on the geographic accuracy of these alerts in order to use them with confidence,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, chair of the FCC. “Simply put, public safety officials want to know that the alerts will reliably reach public throughout—but not beyond—targeted areas during emergencies. These local tests, which are the latest in a recent series of FCC efforts to strengthen Wireless Emergency Alerts, will provide stakeholders with greater insight into alert performance so that this tool can be used to its fullest potential to help keep communities safe.”
The alerts are sent through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System
(IPAWS) to participating wireless providers. The wireless providers then push the alerts to compatible mobile devices in the affected area. Wireless provider participation is voluntary but widespread.
Participating wireless providers must deliver the alerts to the area specified by the alert originator with no more than a 1/10 of a mile overshoot, where technically feasible. According to industry estimates, approximately 60 percent of active smartphones in the U.S. support this “enhanced geotargeting” functionality, with the number to increase as consumers replace their devices with newer models.
“In addition to our local alert system – Thurston Community Alert – we use WEA alerts to reach as many people as possible in the event of an emergency,” said Ben Miller-Todd, interim Emergency Services Director. “This test with the FCC as our partner will help us ensure we’re prepared to get information to people in the next disaster.”