How emergency phone alerts are going to become even more useful

Following criticism for its brief, text-only emergency alert messages, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new rules for the country’s Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system on Thursday.

The new rules will expand the capacity of emergency alerts to 360 characters (previously restricted to 90), allow embedded phone numbers and URLs, and support Spanish-language alerts. The changes come following criticism of the alerts last week in New York City, where an alert asked people to “see media for pic” of bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami, described only as a “28-yr-old male.” Critics argued that the description could lead to racial profiling.

“The FCC’s decision today is a win for public safety, it’s a win for the country as far as emergency learning capability,” Ben Krakauer, the director of Watch Command at NYC Emergency Management, the agency responsible for dispatching the city’s alerts, told Wired. “The FCC approved a lot of what we’ve been asking them to.”READ MORE.