On Tuesday, thousands of Kentucky residents received an alarming “Civil Emergency” alert on their cell phones. According to the FCC, the Wireless Emergency Alert system is a public safety system that allows customers who own certain wireless phone models and other enabled mobile devices to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. Residents also contacted Infowars, with one writing, “I’m a London Kentucky resident who received this horrible message today along with all of my friends and family. The alerts are issued by the President of the United States and agencies such as the National Weather Service, FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security and the Telecommunications Industry Association. Ultimately it's up to the carriers and regulators to decide what alerts are sent out to customers at any given time, and they will only be received by those who have devices that support CBS (most newer devices do). In most cases you also have the ability to disable all but the Presidental alerts, so you can choose not to receive threat or Amber alerts.
If you're on a newer device running OS 7+ you can access your emergency alert settings by clicking on the Emergency Alert Messages icon, the press the Menu key and choose Options. Buddy Rogers with Kentucky Emergency Management says they were testing the emergency alert system at the emergency operations center when someone accidentally sent out a live message instead of an in-house testing message. Shortly after that message a second message was sent, telling people to disregard the previous message. This system is setup through carriers to broadcast alerts to users for sever weather, Amber alerts and presidential alerts.
Having dedicated resources, CBS allows for messages to be sent to many users at any time while still leaving the network open for other data like email and phone calls. Last week we noted that many users received an emergency alert on some devices for a storm that passed through the East coast.


Cell Broadcast is designed for simultaneous delivery of messages to multiple users in a specified area. Exactly, my wife and I were traveling in the storm from Jersey Shore to our home in Queens and while I understand other Verizon customers receive alerts, neither of us received an alert. Rogers said the message was sent to cell phones via the Federal Communication Commission's Wireless Emergency Alert system. Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars reported that many residents find the messages – which are meant to warn people of immediate safety threats in their area – invasive. However, over a hundred respondents flooded the comments of a Sheriff Department's Facebook post, many of whom reported seeing military helicopters performing low-flying maneuvers immediately after the alert was sent out. Residents also contacted Infowars, with one writing, "I'm a London, Kentucky, resident who received this horrible message today along with all of my friends and family. Some speculated that perhaps the message wasn't sent in error – maybe it was just sent to the wrong people. Rogers said the message was sent to cell phones via the Federal Communication Commission’s Wireless Emergency Alert system.
Paul Joseph Watson reported that many residents find the messages – which are meant to warn people of immediate safety threats in their area – invasive. Some speculated that perhaps the message wasn’t sent in error – maybe it was just sent to the wrong people. Sheriff Department’s Facebook page with complaints about low flying military helicopters which coincided with a government “emergency alert” sent to thousands of people’s cellphones yesterday. In the comments it was noted that a bevy of other users across North America had also received alerts in the last few weeks.


Whereas the Short Message Service-Point to Point (SMS-PP) is a one-to-one and one-to-a-few service(requires multiple sms message, as each message can only carry one phone number), Cell Broadcast is a one-to-many geographically focused messaging service. The alerts are sent to geographic locations based on the location data from your SIM or device. And if you're in Canada for example, you won't receive US Presidential alerts since you're not in the US. Sheriff Department's Facebook page with complaints about low flying military helicopters which coincided with a government "emergency alert" sent to thousands of people's cellphones yesterday. However, over a hundred respondents flooded the comments of a Sheriff Department’s Facebook post, many of whom reported seeing military helicopters performing low-flying maneuvers immediately after the alert was sent out. I would think it would not be tied to your GPS but to what cell tower you are attached to, this would be easier to find just the phone attached to the tower instead of having to find the phones via the tower, find their GPS position, then go back to the tower to send the message.
If an SMS were sent to everyone in an area for an emergency, it would eat up network resources and cripple it, thus rendering it useless (also why cellular data is better than voice). Residents Report “Emergency Alert” Messages and Low-Flying Military Helicopters On Tuesday, thousands of Kentucky residents received an alarming "Civil Emergency" alert on their cell phones.



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