Even though the Federal Government is committed to improving the hazard warnings the public receives, they can't do it alone. It will take many public and private partnerships to expand existing and find new and innovative ways to make people safer.

NOAA Weather Radios—Early in 1998, Vice President Al Gore taped several audio and video Public Service Announcements about the importance of NOAA Weather Radio. At the beginning of the 1998 Atlantic Hurricane season, they were distributed to radio and TV stations along the Atlantic and Gulf coast. Distribution will continue throughout the country.

Female teacher sits hehind desk while talking to a little boy and girl.To get NOAA Weather Radio receivers in public spaces and critical facilities, the Federal government needs the help of the state/local governments, private sector groups, and nonprofit organizations. These partnerships can encourage the purchase and donation of these receivers for public spaces, a critical need in avoiding mass casualties where people congregate—shopping centers, hospitals, elder care facilities, day care centers, police and fire stations, town halls, and concert/sporting venues.

Every school should have a NOAA weather radio.

There are already many successful examples of how this partner-ship approach has worked in the past.

NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter Towers—Since 1994, more than 100 new stations have been added using a variety of local, State, and Federal monies and public/private partnerships with corporations, electric cooperatives, and community groups. While the results are encouraging, expansion has been slow. NOAA currently has more than 900 transmitters and is working to establish an additional 300 transmitters so that these life-saving signals can be heard by more people.

Radio tower near trees.Public and Corporate Awareness—To increase public aware-ness about the importance of having NOAA Weather Radios and all-hazard warnings, the Federal Government needs to partner with the companies that make these radios and develop consistent and effective public messages. Local companies and organizations have recognized the importance of these radios, and past partnerships have put NOAA Weather Radio information on grocery bags, milk cartons, newspapers, and inserts to utility bills.

The best warnings are useless unless people can take action. Continued public awareness is an integral part of the success of any warning program -whether through television station promotional efforts, public service announcements, local school visits, or other means.

Designing New Products—To make NOAA Weather Radios an integral part of our lives, the Federal Government needs to partner with manufacturing companies to identify, promote and market new and innovative ways to build NOAA warning information into existing products. Such designs might include a smoke detector/weather radio, self-activating TV sets that broad-cast NOAA alerts, car radios that automatically tune to weather warnings, and satellite Global Positioning System (GPS) traffic/weather systems for cars and trucks.

The first NOAA Weather Radio transmitter installed under Vice President Gore's initiative covered the area in northeast Alabama that had been devastated by the 1994 Palm Sunday tornado. The Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc., of Rainsville, Alabama, donated tower space and standby power to make this site possible. Photo courtesy of Ed Cameron, Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

Communications—To expand and upgrade telephone and mobile hazard warnings, the Federal Government needs to form partnerships with trade associations, telephone companies and service providers, paging companies, and wireless communication providers. The Federal government should also encourage uniform standards so that consistent ser vice will be available nationwide. The Federal Government should also encourage pilot programs.

Tornado's funnel against cloudsImproved Information Content of Warnings—Through the U.S. Weather Research Program, Federal forecast agencies will continue to work in partnership with university researchers, broadcast meteorologists, and those who use weather warnings—such as emergency managers, air traffic controllers, and pilots—to improve the timeliness and accuracy of weather warnings.

National Guard—In 1999, the National Guard completed a far-reaching study about emergency response to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The study, which was directed by Congress, is also assessing the capabilities of the EAS and NOAA Weather Radio for emergency notification of WMD risk. A partnership with the National Guard could extend the coverage of EAS to an all-hazard warning network because of the Guard's community-based presence. The National Guard also has a dual role in State and Federal emergency response, in its traditional mission to support civil authorities and in its emerging role to combat terrorism. The National Guard, NOAA, and FEMA should examine the options for interagency coordination of the EAS and the NOAA Weather Radio to support WMD preparedness.

© Greg Stumpf.

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