Homeland Security & Public Safety

Citizen Alert Systems

Local governments work with COG to build and maintain citizen warning systems able to rapidly alert residents with vital information. Jurisdictions may send alerts over the federal Wireless Emergency Alerts system or via their own alert networks.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are used to send concise, text-like messages to WEA-capable mobile devices during emergency situations. The system is designed to reach all cell phones in a designated area. WEAs are sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the President of the United States. Visit the Federal Communications Commission’s page on WEAs for more information.

Local governments also employ other technologies to sends alerts to devices capable of receiving them, such as smartphones, most wireless phones, home land lines, computers, and tablets. Local emergency management experts issue alerts on a variety of topics such as severe weather, transportation advisories, and information on terrorist incidents. Residents may register their devices to receive these alerts issued by one or more jurisdictions. If people work and live in different jurisdictions, they may wish to sign up for alerts from both places. To make it easier for residents to find and sign up for these alerts, the region created Capitalert with links to the different local government systems.