Workshop participants observed that CMAS will need to be effectively incorporated into the broader context that includes other alerts and warnings systems, broadcast media, social media, and so forth. CMAS will have the greatest effect if messaging is consistent across these sources (because inconsistent messages will hamper an effective public response) and if their use is coordinated. (For example, if a CMAS message says to tune to a local broadcast channel for further information, it is important for local emergency management officials to have forged good relationships with those broadcasters so that the information will in fact be available.)
The brevity of CMAS messages and the new contexts in which they will be used point to the importance of testing and research. It will be helpful to test the effectiveness of the wording of particular messages with test subjects. Before the CMAS program is introduced nationally, pilot programs can be used to determine what messaging is most effective, how CMAS messages can best be coordinated with other alerts and warnings, and so forth. Finally, ongoing research that gathers lessons learned from the early use of CMAS can be used to improve future generations of the program and to inform local, state, and federal officials on best practices for using the system.
Advances in information and communications technologies are creating new opportunities for disseminating alerts and warnings. Several of these were discussed throughout the workshop, including the following:
Ad hoc wireless networks. Most mobile devices have the capability to access wireless hot spots such as those found in coffee shops, bookstores, and public buildings. These semi-public wireless networks have much more capacity than that of cellular wireless networks. Can these networks be quickly and easily accessed during emergencies to disseminate information? Could they be useful as a redundant way of reaching mobile device users?
Mobile devices and social media as information sources for emergency managers. Cell phones can be used by the public to report information from a disaster site. Social media and microblogging sites will continue to be used by those affected by a disaster or crisis. How can emergency managers best accumulate and access the information posted to social