Geographic Targeting, Message Content and Character Limitation Subgroup Report

Published in: The Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council, Working Group 2 Report (Washington, DC: Federal Communications Commission, Oct. 2014), 126 p

Posted on RAND.org on February 27, 2015

by Brian K. Daly, Mike Gerber, William B. Anderson, Keith Bhatia, Cedric Cox, John S. Davis II, Tim Dunn, Brad Gaunt, Dan Gonzales, Denis Gusty, Craig Hodan, Robert Hoever, Brian Josef, Mark Lucero, Hisham Kassab, Farrokh Khatibi, John Kopec, John Madden, Matt Matt May Wyandotte, Hutch McClendon, Peter Musgrove, Mehran Nazari, Orlett W. Pearson, Ganesh Ramesh, Nag Rao, Larry Rybar, Francisco Sanchez, Matthew Straeb, Kim Titus, Xiaomei Wang, James Wiley

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This Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) report analyzes geo-targeting, message content, and character limitations of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). This report considers the technical feasibility of implementing the most desired improvements to WEA in commercial cellular networks: increased message length, supplementing the WEA with graphical information (e.g., display of the recipient's locations along with a map of the threat area, photo of a suspect, missing child, etc.), and improving the geographical targeting granularity of WEA messages to reduce over alerting outside the threat area. The report recommends the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) modify their rules to increase the maximum WEA Alert Message length consistent with capabilities of 4G LTE, which is estimated to be approximately 280 displayable characters. The CSRIC sub working group members that authored this report was unable to obtain consensus on supplementing the WEA with graphical information and concluded more research is needed on specific methods to enhance to geographical targeting of WEA messages. Concerns are also raised about Intellectual Property Rights issues which may preclude advancements to WEA, most notably with regard to geographical filtering of alerts at the device level. CSRIC Working Group 2 recommends that the FCC should work to address these issues.

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