Twitter, Facebook are part of new terror alert system

National Terrorism Alert System replaces former color-coded alerts

The Homeland Security Department is replacing its color-coded alert system with the new National Terrorism Advisory System that will distribute alerts not only through traditional law enforcement and news media channels but also through social media.

As part of that new distribution system, DHS set up a new Twitter account Jan. 27 to carry the new alerts. The department’s new @NTASAlerts account on Twitter had sent no tweets yet and listed 299 subscribers earlier today. The department also plans to publicize the alerts on the DHS Facebook page and on a new dedicated DHS Web page for alerts.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who announced the change Jan. 27, said the new two-tiered alert system will distribute targeted alerts about specific or credible terrorist threats. Depending on the nature of the threat, the alerts may be distributed to the public at large or they may be distributed in a limited fashion to the potentially targeted individuals, she said.

The threats will be labeled “imminent” or “elevated." Each alert will summarize the potential threat, describe the measures officials are taking and recommend steps for people to take.

The new system will replace the color-coded system developed by former Secretary Tom Ridge in 2002 shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks. In that system, red, orange, yellow and green signaled current threat conditions nationally or for airports. Napolitano said the former system often was unspecific and lacked practical information.

“In its place, we will implement a new system that is built on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact you, the public – we will tell you," Napolitano said in her announcement. "We will provide whatever information we can so you know how to protect yourselves, your families and your communities."

A 90-day trial implementation period for the new system began Jan. 27. The old color-coded system will remain in effect during the transition.

The new terror alert system was developed by a bipartisan task force led by Fran Townsend, former assistant to President George W. Bush for Homeland Security, and Judge William Webster, former director of the FBI and CIA. The task force also included law enforcement officials and former mayors and governors.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 RayW

After reading several OPSEC warnings that have come through so far this year, should the title be - "Twitter, Facebook are part of new terror system"?

This conservative boy has better things to do than to hang on facebook waiting for the president to send me a terror message or some China/N. Korea/Russia/other 'hacker' to send me a file I just HAVE to open. (heck, I am not even sure how to get to facebook, except by maybe Googleing it). Besides, I spend too much time cleaning up the kids' computer from the trash that appears to come through facebook, do not need mine to be the same way.

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 Mr. Pooh

This site is ONLY for the impaired Conservatives with the dysfunctional Amygdala’s!!!

Fri, Jan 28, 2011

The only way the government can make us support all of its plans of increased security and control over our civil rights, and to establish a one world government you have to do two things. 1 you need a terrorist attack (911). 2 A way of spreading mass fear (Terror Alert). Reading about stuff like this scares me.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group