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Wireless Emergency Alerts

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is a public safety system that allows customers who own certain wireless phones and other enabled mobile devices to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. The technology ensures that emergency alerts will not get stuck in highly congested areas, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services. WEA — formerly known as the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) or Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN) — was established pursuant to the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act.

WEA enables government officials to target emergency alerts to specific geographic areas through cell towers that broadcast the emergency alerts for reception by WEA-enabled mobile devices.

Wireless companies volunteer to participate in WEA, which is the result of a unique public/private partnership between the FCC, FEMA and the wireless industry to enhance public safety. There are three kinds of alerts:

  • Presidential Alerts – Alerts issued by the President or a designee
  • Imminent Threat Alerts – Alerts that include severe man-made or natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc., where an imminent threat to life or property exists
  • AMBER Alerts – Alerts that meet the U.S. Department of Justice’s criteria to help law enforcement search for and locate an abducted child

These messages are not UTHSC ALERTS and not issued or controlled by the university.

National alerts are location-based at the county level and sent to WEA capable smartphones through wireless carriers. We monitor a small geographic area around campus when determining whether to send a UT ALERT. This means you may receive a NWS message about severe weather in Shelby County, but not a UT ALERT if campus is not affected.

Most new smartphones are capable of receiving these alerts. New phones come with this feature enabled and the user has to change the settings to stop receiving them.

More information can be found here:

Last Published: Nov 27, 2017