Mobile Alert Effectiveness


Various US agencies seek proposals on geographically targeted alert messages to mobile devices that elicit the intended public response; Deadline 24 May 2012

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Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS)
Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (RDT&E)

Funding Opportunity

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate’s Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (RDT&E) Program is pleased to announce a funding opportunity for research related to CMAS, as referenced in the 2012 DHS S&T Long Range Broad Agency Announcement (LRBAA).

The CMAS RDT&E Program enables and enhances the national capability to deliver geographic-targeted alert messages to mobile devices that elicit the intended public response. Per the WARN Act, S&T is looking for academic institutions, private sector organizations, government laboratories, and other entities to perform RDT&E activities that address geographic-targeting and public response performance gaps. These RDT&E activities will improve the functionality of CMAS by enabling recipients to receive relevant messages that spur the appropriate public response, thus increasing individual and collective safety.

The DHS S&T is looking for research in the following priority areas. Information about these research priorities is available on pages 12-14 of the LRBAA (

Public Response (FRG.03): Research to better understand how the public will respond to alert and warning messages on mobile devices. Specific research priorities include the following:

  • Information Diffusion: Understanding how information diffuses and spreads across networks, technology platforms, and through both at-risk and general populations before, during, and after an CMAS message is issued, and understanding what effect this information has on public response to mobile alerts and warnings;
  • Public Response to CMAS Initiation: Understanding how the public responds to the introduction of a new mobile alert and warning system as part of the broader portfolio of early warning tools, how public awareness of CMAS and privacy concerns could impact response to alerts;
  • Message Content: Identifying what information must be included in a CMAS message to elicit the desired public response given the current 90 character limit, as well as how to incorporate potential future features, such as additional characters, maps, or hyperlinks; and
  • Message Frequency, Follow-up, and Source: Understanding how the public responds to information they receive from both official and unofficial information sources, and the implications of how often CMAS messages are sent and updated for the purpose of providing appropriate follow-up information.

Diverse Populations (FRG.04): Research to better understand how to ensure the same timely and effective access to alerts and warnings for diverse populations including persons with functional and access needs, transients/tourists, elderly/older, isolated/rural populations, institutional populations and non-English speaking people. Specific research priorities include understanding and improving how different population groups are affected and served by mobile alerts and warnings and how message indicators, including vibration, cadence, tone, and display, can improve how population segments receive and interpret CMAS messages.

Geo-Targeting (FRG.05): Research to better determine when more granular geo-targeting is appropriate and how broadly targeting should be extended from the point of incident as well as identification, testing, and evaluation of technologies that provide the capability of more granular geo-targeting. The CMAS RDT&E Program is particularly interested in several research and development areas including:

  • Geo-Targeting in Border Areas: Understanding the possibility and effects of bleed-over of CMAS messages across city, county, state, and international jurisdictions and mitigating these effects through improved CMAS capabilities or other methods;
  • Geo-Targeting Granularity: Identifying and better understanding scenarios in which county or sub-county level (i.e., below the county level as currently implemented) geo-targeting is appropriate as well as how broadly to geo-target CMAS alert messages from the point of incident;
  • Public Response Considerations Specific to Geo-Targeting: Understanding how the public responds to messages targeted at different levels of granularity and geographic areas (e.g., public knowledge of the area targeted for a message);
  • Alternative Technologies to Improve Current and Future Geo-Targeting Capabilities: Improving current and future geographic targeting of CMAS messages, including technologies that could enhance Cell Broadcast’s capabilities such as locations-based services, geo-fencing, GPS, Wi-Fi identification, tower triangulation, or phone-based applications. Other areas for consideration include addressing messages across boundaries between targeted regions, differing coverage areas across multiple mobile carrier networks, the challenges of in-building geographies such as airports, and other enhancements to improve the geo-targeting of mobile alerts and warnings.

More information about this funding opportunity, including links to the LRBAA, application, research areas of strategic interest, submission requirements and processes, and evaluation criteria can be found on

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to submit white papers via the LRBAA by May 24, 2012.

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