Author Topic: TECHNOLOGY: Commercial Mobile Alert System  (Read 5337 times)

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Tempest

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TECHNOLOGY: Commercial Mobile Alert System
« on: Mar 21, 2013, 06:31 pm »
I've begun receiving alerts from the Commercial Mobile Alert System on my phone. For those not in the know, you can take a look at the link below.
http://www.fcc.gov/guides/commercial-mobile-alert-system-cmas

Basically, those severe weather alerts that used to go across the bottom of your television screen  (do they still? I don't have TV.) are transmitted to your phone. There's the same loud, buzzy tone, and when you shut it off, you see the nature of the alert. All of mine have been tornado warnings for the area I was currently in. Not watches, warnings, so I'm pretty satisfied with the usefulness of the system.

Problem is, the loud, annoying, unmistakable tone happens even if your phone is on silent.

For lots of reasons, I keep my phone on silent in the booth, not off. (Good example: I am the only technician on any of my shows. Power went out in the booth during a show but I was able to keep running the show since the boards were on UPSs. I texted the TD who I knew was just down the hall and he managed to get things fixed, and no one was the wiser. Had I needed to turn on my phone, which boots slow, the UPSs may have run out of power and the show would have stopped.) But if one of those alerts goes off, everyone is going to be able to hear it.

So I'm weighing the decision whether or not a theatre full of patrons hearing that tone is worth the advance warning I would get of bad weather and being able to start our theatre mandated tornado warning practices to keep our patrons and casts safe. In theory there is supposed to be someone watching the weather for us when there are shows on. But I know how mad things can get for my co-workers when there can be upwards of 1500 kids running around, and for some reason, I am the only one in the building (that I know of) that gets these alerts. My phone company is an early adopter, I guess? If I got the warning I could text my producer and ask for instruction instead of waiting for someone to notice a radar screen that might be hiding behind their e-mail, ticket software, or down the hall from where they were dealing with some other issue.

Yeah, it's kids, so that's weighing on my thoughts, too. Has anyone else had to make this decision?

Edited to add topic tag. - Maribeth
« Last Edit: Mar 22, 2013, 09:48 pm by Maribeth »
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Maribeth

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Re: Commercial Mobile Alert System
« Reply #1 on: Mar 21, 2013, 06:56 pm »
I haven't been in the same situation, but have you looked at other alert systems? I get text messages and emails for weather emergencies in my area. They also will alert me for other emergency situations like a broken water main. No loud buzzy tone. The ones I use are through the local government and not the Commercial Mobile Alert, though.

However, if the warnings are not very frequent, and only in the case of true emergencies like tornadoes, it would seem like the advantage outweighed the disturbance. (If you get them several times a day or week, I might reconsider).

SMAshlee

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Re: Commercial Mobile Alert System
« Reply #2 on: Mar 21, 2013, 08:10 pm »
I too have an app similar to this but it only beeps/vibrates so when it does go off, it's not as obvious to others around me. I've never had to take cover with an audience (knock on wood), just during a dress rehearsal so it was fairly orderly. 

I would have to agree with Maribeth... if you were getting the loud alerts for every little thing, I might reconsider. However, I personally, would want a watch message in advance of the warning message.  If things are always busy in the back offices/stage and I got a watch message, I would text the weather-watcher and ask them to take note of the situation and be ready to execute the theatre's warning protocol.

In my current location, the tornado sirens are heard everywhere, so having an audience that may hear them before the theatre has started taking action, would be devastating. We are still rebuilding from the last one, so I completely understand the necessity of getting weather alerts. 

Jessie_K

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Re: Commercial Mobile Alert System
« Reply #3 on: Mar 21, 2013, 09:04 pm »
Have you tried manually turning your volume all the way down?  That works for the alarm on iPhone as well.

bex

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Re: Commercial Mobile Alert System
« Reply #4 on: Mar 21, 2013, 09:29 pm »
From the FCC website:
Quote
Customers of participating carriers are automatically signed up.
Quote
Participating wireless carriers may offer subscribers with CMAS-capable handsets the ability to block alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life and/or AMBER Alerts; however, consumers cannot block emergency alerts issued by the President.

This happened to my roommate- he now gets the messages, which he was not aware of until we were under a flood warning and his phone started screeching. You can't turn them off or opt out of them (which personally I have a problem with but that's another issue entirely).

In your situation, I would leave it on- they happen so infrequently that I would rather have the audience hear the sound (which they may not hear anyway, or might mistake for someone's ringtone or whatever) and be prepared than have to 1- turn off my phone and 2- depend on someone else who may or may not be on top of the weather situation.

Can you put your phone in airplane mode? You won't be able to get any emergency calls/texts from other staff, but getting out of airplane mode to send a call is much faster than booting up your phone.
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

KMC

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Re: Commercial Mobile Alert System
« Reply #5 on: Mar 22, 2013, 09:17 am »
From the FCC website:
Quote
Customers of participating carriers are automatically signed up.
Quote
Participating wireless carriers may offer subscribers with CMAS-capable handsets the ability to block alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life and/or AMBER Alerts; however, consumers cannot block emergency alerts issued by the President.

This happened to my roommate- he now gets the messages, which he was not aware of until we were under a flood warning and his phone started screeching. You can't turn them off or opt out of them (which personally I have a problem with but that's another issue entirely).

Is that actually true?  Do you have any statements from the FCC's website to support that?  Knowing our lovely federal government I don't doubt it for a bit, just curious.  If this is indeed true, that is an incredible invasion of privacy. 
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nick_tochelli

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Re: Commercial Mobile Alert System
« Reply #6 on: Mar 22, 2013, 10:06 am »
The FCC signs everyone up when they get their phone, you do have to activate it on your own, it's not automatic. In order to receive those alerts you need to turn the functionality on.

Now, as for the Alerts themselves here's the catch: anyone with a cell phone that receives those alerts (I get AMBER and Weather emergency alerts) will go off regardless of what your phone does, especially an iPhone which disregards silent or sleep modes. Half the point of those alerts is they trumpet themselves loudly and proudly. The odds of every single person in the house having disabled this function is pretty slim. I know we always tell them turn their phones off....who honestly thinks that happens? So you having it on your phone is probably not that big of a deal IMO.

As for EAS (Emergency Alert System) being linked to the President, that is true. No one has ever fully initiated the EAS. National Weather Service and AMBER alerts use it most but between the now defunct Emergency Broadcast System and EAS, no President has ever taken to the airwaves and interrupted everything to alert the public of an impending emergency.

bex

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Re: Commercial Mobile Alert System
« Reply #7 on: Mar 23, 2013, 12:26 pm »

Is that actually true?  Do you have any statements from the FCC's website to support that?  Knowing our lovely federal government I don't doubt it for a bit, just curious.  If this is indeed true, that is an incredible invasion of privacy.

I copied those quotes from the link that tempest_gypsy posted.

As far as I can see from the website, you do not have an option. From what I read, if the model of your phone & your phone company both support the plan, you have no choice.
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

ewharton

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Re: TECHNOLOGY: Commercial Mobile Alert System
« Reply #8 on: Mar 23, 2013, 12:54 pm »
I have the option to turn all alerts except Presidential Alerts. I have an Android and when I open CMAS and go to menu, then settings,  I can disable Amber Alerts & for Imminent threat alerts I can select 'All alerts', 'Extreme alerts only', or 'off.'

bex

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Re: TECHNOLOGY: Commercial Mobile Alert System
« Reply #9 on: Mar 23, 2013, 09:09 pm »
So here's what it looks like on my roommate's phone.

According to the FCC website, not all phones/carriers give you the option to opt out, and even if you CAN opt out, you CANNOT opt out of alerts from the President (granted, that's never happened).

You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

 

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