Post submitted by Samantha Brear, Alert Iowa Mass Notification System Program Manager and State E911 Program Planner at Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Alert Iowa is a statewide mass notification and emergency messaging system. The system can be used by state and local authorities to quickly disseminate emergency information to residents in counties that utilize the system. The system is available, free of charge, to all counties. Eighty-four of Iowa’s 99 counties are using the Alert Iowa system.
Alert Iowa allows citizens to sign up for the types of alerts they would like to receive. Types of alerts may include evacuation orders, boil order notifications, and other local safety information messages. The best way to receive messages is via text message. However, users can also opt for a voice call and an email.
The system interacts with National Weather Service notifications. When the National Weather Service issues weather alerts, such as Flash Flood Warnings and Tornado Warnings the system sends these alerts automatically to members of the public who have opted in to receive them.
The map shows the counties that are utilizing the Alert Iowa system. Citizens can sign up to receive alerts on their county’s registration page. If they choose, they can sign up to receive alerts in multiple counties.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are another type of emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through mobile carriers. WEA messages include a special tone and vibration, which are repeated twice, followed by the WEA, which will look like a text message. The WEA message will show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. The National Weather Service can send out Flash Flood Warnings, Tornado Warnings, and Amber Alerts while Iowa Homeland Security can send out Civil Emergency Warnings to every smart phone within a specified threat area. Wireless Emergency Alert service is offered as a free service by wireless carriers. Citizens do not need to sign up for this service.
Alert Iowa and Wireless Emergency Alerts are only two of the ways citizens can receive emergency alerts. Other sources include NOAA Weather Radio, news broadcasts, the Emergency Alert System on radio and TV programs, outdoor sirens and phone apps.
Please visit http://www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov/about_HSEMD/alert_iowa.html for more information and how to sign up!