highways, public trains and buses, and innumerable other places. Additionally, travelers who are away from home will receive alerts for hazards with which they may not be familiar. Following are questions needing further research that are related to the context in which people will receive alerts and warnings:

  • How will an individual’s location affect his or her response to an alert or warning? (For example, what might be the response of a person who is driving compared with that of a person traveling on public transportation?)

  • How will people deal with messages about which they have not been educated? (For example, how might someone respond who lives on the West Coast and who then travels to “Tornado Alley” in the midsection of the United States and is not familiar with the meaning of “tornado warning” or does not know what the appropriate protective action is in the case of a tornado?)


The following sections describe challenges ahead for CMAS with respect to public education, the incorporation of CMAS efforts into a broader context of other alerting systems, and testing, piloting, and research with respect to CMAS messaging.

Public Education

Workshop participants emphasized that an effective educational component is a key to introducing new alert technologies and methods. They cited past research showing that educating the public in advance about what actions to take under particular circumstances is key to effective public response. The constrained message context of CMAS places an even greater premium on educating the population in advance about the steps to take to protect themselves, the best places to go for additional information, and ways in which they might assist others.

The size and diversity of the populations that will receive CMAS alerts and the diversity of the hazards about which alerts may need to be sent indicate the challenges of developing educational programs with sufficient breadth. These programs will need to explain not only CMAS but also the necessary public responses associated with different types of alerts.

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