Last month, Vail Public Safety Communications Center (VPSCC) released a report about the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) test conducted on May 2, 2018. The test was end-to-end, meaning that cell phones in the target area would receive a test message that read “EC EMO: TEST emergency message. Go to ec-e.org to provide feedback. No other action needed.” The purpose of this test was manifold and included evaluation of:
- The geolocation capabilities, specifically overreaching the target area.
- Whether the URL functioned as a clickable link.
- Awareness of WEA.
- WEA’s performance in a mountainous area.
- Use of Everbridge to send the message.
With the public receiving the message, VPSCC followed-up with a short survey to measure the reach and speed of the message, providers and operating system prevalence amongst respondents, and awareness level of Vail’s subscriber-based emergency notification system. Survey and test results indicated the not all cell phones within the targeted area received the test message, and conversely, some cell phones outlying the target area did receive the test message. Travelers that entered the target area before the test message expired received the message. However, some respondents indicated that they had issues retrieving the message after acknowledging it (e.g., tapping the touchscreen), “causing confusion because they couldn’t get back to comprehend the message.” Additionally, the test found that some service providers split the message, resulting in the splitting of the URL rendering it un-clickable. As such, VPSCC recommended that hyphens not be used in URLs. They also recommended drawing the target area with the polygon tool as opposed to the “free-form” tool to reduce the number of geopoints created. The full report including all findings, recommendations, and associated survey tool and data can be accessed using the link below.