It essentially deputizes the five boroughs and encourages people to treat anyone who looks like he might be named "Ahmad Khan Rahami" with suspicion.
As you can see, one odd feature about the alert is that it doesn't actually include a picture of Rahami, but instead instructs the recipient to "See media for pic". "Call 9-1-1 if seen", it read.
The alerts also raise the question of just how effective they would be in actually finding a suspect.
Notify NYC started as a pilot program with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) called Commercial Alerting System. Lance Ulanoff, Chief Correspondent at Mashable, was on a train in NY when the WEA messages were received and tweeted: "If commuters weren't already on edge today, this alert which just rang through the entire train got us there". Cell broadcast doesn't care about phone numbers at all - it's virtually guaranteed that whomever is in range of the cell tower will receive the message it's sending.
Presumably this alert would fall into the category of "Imminent Threat Alerts", but it's unclear if an alert like this has ever been used as part of a manhunt for a bombing suspect. If a lot of cellphone users are present in a confined space, it can get quite noisy.
If you wish to opt out of WEAs, on iOS, go to Settings, then Notifications.
On Android phones, the emergency alert was classified as "extreme", while iOS devices didn't appear to indicate a threat level.
Police consultant and retired LAPD Lieutenant Raymond Foster told FoxNews.com that alerts can be an effective way to share emergency information.
The system can only accommodate 90 characters, and there are pre-scripted messages because of the fairly limited number of circumstances that would necessitate such an alert, according to Silvestri. The wording "See media for pic" was an acknowledgement that the news was already universal, and its effect was likely to nudge commuters over to Google. Although they go over carrier networks, they use a separate technology that "will not get stuck" if wireless traffic is congested in the region - often a problem in an emergency situation.
The president can also issue alerts to citizens through the emergency system. It wasn't the sound of text messages: It was a dissonant siren, repeated six times, accompanied by a short note. However, the carriers' participation in the WEA system is voluntary, according to the FCC's FAQ page on WEAs. The NWS will highlight the most "critical" alerts in order to get them sent out as an WEA.
Wireless carriers volunteer to participate in the Wireless Emergency Alerts program, which is a partnership between FEMA, the Federal Communications Commission, and the USA wireless industry. What Are Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)?
With more devices than Americans, it's logical emergency personnel view mobile devices as important communications tools to alert people as soon as possible that their lives or property are seriously at risk.
"The alert was very unspecific and open-ended", she added.