Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2012 Vol. 59 No. 7

Texas Emergency Management Briefs, Tips and Links

Missed an issue of Texas Emergency Management Online? You’re in luck. You can view each past issue in the online archives. And, if you have a story idea, email it to TDEM.WEB@dps.texas.gov.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for most of Texas, unveiled its long-anticipated mobile in June. The initial version includes current system operating conditions, conservation tips and an overview of ERCOT.  Most notably, the app will provide "push" notifications straight to Apple and Android devices. When ERCOT is experiencing high demand and conservation is critical, users who enable the feature will receive alerts notifying them of the situation. That’s also when the conservation tips page will be especially useful.

The Wireless Association® and the wireless industry joined the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to offer Americans a robust and reliable wireless emergency alert system. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), also known as Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) or Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), is a national emergency alert system to send concise, text-like messages to users’ WEA-capable mobile devices starting April 2012. Wireless providers representing nearly 97 percent of subscribers are participating in distributing wireless emergency alerts.
Mobile users will not be charged for receiving these text-like alerts and are automatically enrolled to receive them.  There are three different kinds of alerts:

  1. Presidential Alerts – Alerts issued by the President or a designee;
  2. Imminent Threat Alerts – Alerts that include severe man-made or natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc., where an imminent threat to life or property exists; and
  3. AMBER Alerts – Alerts that meet the U.S. Department of Justice’s criteria to help law enforcement search for and locate an abducted child.

Officials with Texas Forest Service and The Texas A&M University System have unveiled new web applications that will help homeowners and communities determine wildfire risk — and take measures to mitigate potential hazards. Wildfires scorched almost 4 million acres across the state last year, destroying nearly 3,000 homes. Texas Forest Service officials say the new web applications will arm Texans with the tools they need to reduce threats from future blazes. Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, or TxWRAP, allows users to identify wildfire threats for a particular area based on landscape characteristics, historical fire occurrence, weather conditions, terrain and potential fire behavior. It also routes users to resources that can help them implement wildfire prevention practices. Accessible at texaswildfirerisk.com, the applications are free to use. Professional users such as civic planners, wildland fire managers and elected officials can use TxWRAP to generate a report packaging all the wildfire risk data for their community. Such a tool can be useful in defining mitigation options, allocating resources and prioritizing programs that will better protect communities. Developed by Texas Forest Service GIS specialists, TxWRAP is the first web portal of its kind in the nation granting public access to risk assessment data that previously hasn’t been readily available, particularly in a user-friendly format. Texas Forest Service Director Tom Boggus called the website a “holistic approach to Texans helping Texans mitigate their wildfire risk.” Resources: Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal: texaswildfirerisk.com. Brief, instructional video: www.youtube.com/texasforestservice.

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