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How wireless emergency alerts work

How wireless emergency alerts work

A spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the use of the alert system was "a first" for such a objective.

If you live in or close to New York City, your cellphone likely made a odd sound at about 8 a.m. this morning.

As you can see, one odd feature about the alert is that it doesn't actually include a picture of Rahami, but instead instructs the recipient to "See media for pic". "Call 9-1-1 if seen", the notification read.

It roughly coincided with an appearance by Mayor Bill de Blasio at 7:30 a.m. on CNN, where he announced the name of the suspect and shared a photograph released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Messages can be about weather threats, Amber alerts for missing children or emergencies like a chemical spill.

On Sept. 19, many New Yorkers awoke to an emergency alert on their mobile phones with details about a bombing suspect, who has since been arrested in New Jersey.

Rahami was captured just hours after the alert went out, taken into custody following a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey.

Federal, state, and local public safety agencies that have been authorized by FEMA can issue the warnings.

The presidential alarm is the only one that smartphone users can't disable on their phones. Additionally, because the alerts are sent through cell towers, they target hazily defined geographic areas.

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This is an extremely bad push alert to blast across the greater NY area.

The FCC previous year in a preliminary vote called for allowing all alerts to include web links. Here's how they work.

Today, the National Weather Service remains a big user of the wireless alerting system, Witmer says. Wireless customers can opt out of receiving imminent threat and AMBER alerts in their phone settings. "By not having a link, you're not encouraging them to go poking around".

At this stage WEA messages are limited to 90 characters and images can not be placed in the alert.

Silvestri acknowledged that the system has its limitations - for example, messages can not exceed 90 characters and they can not include photos - and that its use requires weighing the question of whether a message to the public will have an adverse effect, such as creating fear, panic, or profiling. What is clear, however, is that either the technology around emergency alerts or the way in which they're presented needs to change, lest a similar one result in spurring on even more anti-Muslim or anti-Middle Eastern sentiment.

The wireless industry is preparing a trial to determine whether photos and videos could be included in future alerts without causing harmful network congestion, Brian Josef, CTIA's assistant vice president for regulatory affairs, said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. But he also praised it for how quickly it informed as many people as it did. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he "wouldn't be surprised if we found a foreign connection to the act".

The latter category has never been used, though it was the key trigger for the creation of the system.

Including a clickable web address or phone number "could provide consumers a direct line to the information that is most pertinent to them", the group said in a June filing. If a phone was on silent or vibrate only, it would have received the alert without sound.

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