United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Jul 21, 2024

§ 321o.
Integrated public alert and warning system modernization
(a)
In general
To provide timely and effective warnings regarding natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters or threats to public safety, the Administrator shall—
(1)
modernize the integrated public alert and warning system of the United States (in this section referred to as the “public alert and warning system”) to help ensure that under all conditions the President and, except to the extent the public alert and warning system is in use by the President, Federal agencies and State, tribal, and local governments can alert and warn the civilian population in areas endangered by natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters or threats to public safety; and
(2)
implement the public alert and warning system to disseminate timely and effective warnings regarding natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters or threats to public safety.
(b)
Implementation requirements
In carrying out subsection (a), the Administrator shall—
(1)
establish or adopt, as appropriate, common alerting and warning protocols, standards, terminology, and operating procedures for the public alert and warning system;
(2)
include in the public alert and warning system the capability to adapt the distribution and content of communications on the basis of geographic location, risks, and multiple communication systems and technologies, as appropriate and to the extent technically feasible;
(3)
include in the public alert and warning system the capability to alert, warn, and provide equivalent information to individuals with disabilities, individuals with access and functional needs, and individuals with limited-English proficiency, to the extent technically feasible;
(4)
ensure that training, tests, and exercises are conducted for the public alert and warning system, including by—
(A)
incorporating the public alert and warning system into other training and exercise programs of the Department, as appropriate;
(B)
establishing and integrating into the National Incident Management System a comprehensive and periodic training program to instruct and educate Federal, State, tribal, and local government officials in the use of the Common Alerting Protocol enabled Emergency Alert System; and
(C)
conducting, not less than once every 3 years, periodic nationwide tests of the public alert and warning system;
(5)
to the extent practicable, ensure that the public alert and warning system is resilient and secure and can withstand acts of terrorism and other external attacks;
(6)
conduct public education efforts so that State, tribal, and local governments, private entities, and the people of the United States reasonably understand the functions of the public alert and warning system and how to access, use, and respond to information from the public alert and warning system through a general market awareness campaign;
(7)
consult, coordinate, and cooperate with the appropriate private sector entities and Federal, State, tribal, and local governmental authorities, including the Regional Administrators and emergency response providers;
(8)
consult and coordinate with the Federal Communications Commission, taking into account rules and regulations promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission; and
(9)
coordinate with and consider the recommendations of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Subcommittee established under section 2(b) of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015.
(c)
System requirements
The public alert and warning system shall—
(1)
to the extent determined appropriate by the Administrator, incorporate multiple communications technologies;
(2)
be designed to adapt to, and incorporate, future technologies for communicating directly with the public;
(3)
to the extent technically feasible, be designed—
(A)
to provide alerts to the largest portion of the affected population feasible, including nonresident visitors and tourists, individuals with disabilities, individuals with access and functional needs, and individuals with limited-English proficiency; and
(B)
to improve the ability of remote areas to receive alerts;
(4)
promote local and regional public and private partnerships to enhance community preparedness and response;
(5)
provide redundant alert mechanisms where practicable so as to reach the greatest number of people; and
(6)
to the extent feasible, include a mechanism to ensure the protection of individual privacy.
(d)
Use of system

Except to the extent necessary for testing the public alert and warning system, the public alert and warning system shall not be used to transmit a message that does not relate to a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster or threat to public safety.

(e)
Performance reports
(1)
In general
Not later than 1 year after April 11, 2016, and annually thereafter through 2018, the Administrator shall make available on the public website of the Agency a performance report, which shall—
(A)
establish performance goals for the implementation of the public alert and warning system by the Agency;
(B)
describe the performance of the public alert and warning system, including—
(i)
the type of technology used for alerts and warnings issued under the system;
(ii)
the measures taken to alert, warn, and provide equivalent information to individuals with disabilities, individuals with access and function 1
1
 So in original. Probably should be “functional”.
needs, and individuals with limited-English proficiency; and
(iii)
the training, tests, and exercises performed and the outcomes obtained by the Agency;
(C)
identify significant challenges to the effective operation of the public alert and warning system and any plans to address these challenges;
(D)
identify other necessary improvements to the system; and
(E)
provide an analysis comparing the performance of the public alert and warning system with the performance goals established under subparagraph (A).
(2)
Congress

(Pub. L. 107–296, title V, § 526, as added Pub. L. 114–143, § 2(a), Apr. 11, 2016, 130 Stat. 327.)
cite as: 6 USC 321o