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Sheriff - News

Posted on: September 6, 2022

Local Public Safety Agencies Partner with FCC to Conduct WEA Test

WEA Test Message

Jefferson County, CO. – Through a coordinated effort by Jefferson County Emergency Management and the Jefferson County Communications Center Authority (Jeffcom), the FCC will be conducting a test of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13, 2022. This test is intended to assess the geographic accuracy of WEA, along with other performance factors, such as reliability and speed. Jeffcom and Jeffco’s Emergency Management team aggressively sought and were granted the opportunity to be one of only 42 localities in the country to participate in this inaugural federally coordinated WEA exercise to measure enhanced geo-targeting.

 For the test, Jeffcom will send a WEA message to the public in a targeted area. Jefferson County’s target test area encompasses a 1.5 mile radius from the intersection of Kings Valley Dr. and Haldimand Dr. in Conifer, CO. The alert message will be clear that it is only a test and will contain a link to a survey for recipients to complete. The survey, along with data collected from a control group of volunteers and from wireless providers, will help the FCC analyze test results.

 Jeffcom Executive Director Jeff Streeter explains that “emergency communications play a significant role in public safety and I am proud that Jeffcom and our partners at Jefferson County and Elk Creek Fire are able to take advantage of this unique opportunity. WEA is one tool we can use to ensure our residents receive important emergency information when they need it most; therefore, it is helpful to better understand its capabilities and any limitations.”

 Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Hal Grieb adds “the opportunity to test WEA also allows us to increase public awareness of emergency notifications, and local government agencies’ ongoing efforts to partner, plan, and prepare for disasters. What better time to participate in a federal exercise than during National Preparedness Month?”

 Authorized local, state, and federal governments can send WEA messages to wireless providers through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). The wireless providers push the alerts to compatible mobile devices in a targeted geographic area. According to industry estimates, approximately 60% of active smartphones support this functionality, although users have the option to opt-out of receiving WEA messages. Opting-out is not recommended however.

 LookoutAlert is another tool Jefferson County uses for emergency notifications. It uses different cellular system-based technology to allow public safety agencies to notify residents of emergencies via phone call, text message and/or email. Like WEA, emergency messages can be targeted to a specific geographic area. However, to receive emergency notifications on mobile devices users must opt-in to LookoutAlert by registering at Opting-in is highly recommended and this same site provides more information on LookoutAlert, as well as frequently asked questions. 

WEA Test Target Area

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