State CIOs Want System To Warn Public Of Danger. Proposals call for a system that would be used to send alerts--targeted down to an individual ZIP code. The warnings would show up on mobile phones, PCs, PDAs, as well as TV and radio.
By Jim Nash InformationWeek Jan. 6, 2005 Amber Alerts, used to rapidly disseminate news of child abductions, are getting a lot of attention from federal and state governments looking for better ways to warn the public of imminent danger such as threats to public safety. The ultimate goal: a standard, nationwide system for alerting the public. The National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) is planning a pilot that would operate similarly to Amber Alerts and could enable states to warn people of everything from overturned trucks hauling gas to a chemical attack. On the federal level, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is already in the midst of such a pilot. Amber Alerts are sent to broadcasters--which stop programs to announce details of suspected kidnappings--and directly to the public via E-mail, text messages, electronic roadside signs, and pop-ups on computer screens. Safety information from governments tends to flow like water from a hydrant: If you aren't standing in front of it, you aren't getting wet. A good example is storm warnings that can only alert people who are listening to a radio or watching TV when the warning is issued. The creators of Amber Alerts have honed what might be called the capillary model of information distribution: Alerts start in a central conduit, namely a Web portal, and flow out to a variety of devices. Chris Dixon, an issues coordinator with NASCIO, says the organization is in the early stages of planning its pilot--coordinating with DHS to minimize overlap in the projects. The goal is to create a nationwide alert network called the All Alert System, Dixon says.
The only easy day was yesterday.
...some do, some don't; some will, some won't (WR)