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Workshop on Geotargeted Alerts and Warnings
February 21-22, 2013
 Keck Center of the National Academies
500 5th Street NW Washington, DC
The Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Academies is hosting a workshop to examine current knowledge and research on geotargeted disaster alerts and warnings.  The workshop, organized by the National Academies, is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. The workshop will take place February 21-22, 2013 at the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, DC.
The workshop will consider the potential for more precise geographical targeting to improve the effectiveness of disaster alerts and warnings; examine the opportunities presented by current and emerging technologies to create, deliver, and display alerts and warnings with greater geographical precision; consider the circumstances where more granular targeting would be useful; and examine the potential roles of federal, state, and local agencies and private sector information and communications providers in delivering more targeted alerts.   
Participants in this event will include researchers and practitioners in the fields of risk communication, public response to emergencies, alerts and warning systems, emergency management, and mobile device communication.  A summary of the workshop will be published by National Academies Press.
Due to limited space, registration is required to attend. Please complete the registration form available here.

For questions about the project, please contact Gin Bacon Talati at vbtalati [at]
For meeting details and logistics, please contact Linda Walker at lwalker [at]

Background Information
Specific and clear information, including which locations are and are not at risk, increases the likelihood that people take protective action. When alerts and warnings are delivered to broader populations than those actually affected by an event, the result may be that an alert or warning indicates that more people than are actually at risk should take action. 
The workshop will consider opportunities for public safety and emergency management capabilities for better use of geographical information, and consider such questions as:
  • How can new technology be used to deliver improved geographical targeting capabilities?
  • How can trends in sensing, weather forecasting, and other modeling and simulation technologies and their implications be expected to improve the geographical precision of information used to formulate alerts and warnings?
  • What level of geographical targeting is needed to make messages relevant?  In what scenarios might greater precision be useful?
  • What is known about the consequences of too many messages (e.g., if the threshold for events which trigger alerts is set too low, if alerts cover too large a geographical area, if messages are repeated too often, or if there are too many false alarms)? Is there a threshold level that would cause people to ignore the messages or opt out from participating?
  • What are potential drawbacks of such capabilities, such as concerns about privacy?
  • What would be effective strategies for introducing more precise geographic information as systems are modernized and enhanced, to include a forward-looking view of requirements and opportunities so that the design and deployment of alert/warning systems fosters future enhancements?
  • What technical and operational standards are needed to facilitate the provision of more precise alerts/warnings?
  • How can commercial off the shelf technology and commercial services be leveraged to deliver alerts and warnings?
  • What training will be needed for emergency managers at the federal, state, and local level to take advantage of new geotargeting capabilities?
  • What public education efforts will be needed to realize the benefits of new geographical capabilities?
The meeting will take place at the Keck Center of the National Academies located at 500 5th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001. 
  • The closest metro stations are Judiciary Square and Gallery Place-Chinatown Stations. 
  • Parking is available to workshop attendees and can be accessed fron 6th Street.
  • Attendees will need to sign in with the front desk and provide photo identification.

Note that due to an efficiency initiative of the workshop's sponsor, DHS, we will be unable to provide lunch to attendees. However, the Keck Center has a cafeteria available for meeting attendees.