Emergency Communications Research - 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 both by reaching crucial recipients with CMAS alerts and by enabling CMAS alert recipients to act in a way that increases individual and collective safety and security.

The DHS S&T is looking for research in the following priority areas.  Additional detail about these research priorities is available on pages 13-14 of the LRBAA (http://bit.ly/ytu7w3).  

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 emergency information diffuses and spreads across networks, technology platforms, and through both at-risk and general populations before, during, and after a CMAS message is issued
  • Public Response to CMAS Initiation – Studying how the public could behave in response to new alerting technologies and systems, and how public awareness of the system could impact this response
  • Message Content – Studying the components of effective message content to elicit the desired public response, including the character limit, as well as potential future features, such as maps or hyperlinks
  • Message Frequency, Follow-Up, and Source – Understanding the implications of how often alerts or warnings are sent and updated, given other official and unofficial sources of information, and how to monitor public response to alerts and warnings in order to provide 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.

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. Specific research priorities include the following:

  • Geo-Targeting in Border Areas – Studying the effects and possible unintended consequences of bleed-over of alerts and warnings across borders to recipients in other jurisdictions
  • Geo-Targeting Granularity – Analyzing what conditions should be met (e.g., situations, geographic areas, demographic trends) for county-level geo-targeting to be most appropriate and/or least appropriate
  • 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 – Assessing the capabilities that current and future technologies have for targeting messages, including enhancement of Cell Broadcast capabilities

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 Grants.gov:  http://1.usa.gov/HFpUPR.  Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to submit white papers by May 24.