Revamped Terror Alert System Will Debut at the End of April

[Editor’s Note:  The following article appeared in the weekly electronic newsletter, NSI Security Newswatch, on April 13].

Kiss color coding goodbye. At the end of April, the current terror alert system will be replaced with a new one that’s expected to provide more timely and detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders and others concerned about the nation’s safety.

For close to three months, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been working on the new setup, called the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), which was announced January 27.  The new system will replace the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS), which was introduced March 11, 2002 and uses color-coded alerts to convey threat levels.

“This new system is built on a clear and simple premise: when a credible threat develops that could impact the public, we will tell you and provide whatever information we can so that you know how to keep yourselves, your families and your communities safe,” DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said at the time of the announcement.

Under the new system, DHS will coordinate with other federal entities to issue formal, detailed alerts when the federal government receives information about a specific or credible terrorist threat, the agency explained.  These alerts will include a clear statement that there is an “imminent threat” or “elevated threat,” it said. The alerts also will provide a concise summary of the potential threat, information about actions being taken to ensure public safety, and recommended steps that individuals and communities, businesses and governments can take.

In some cases, it continued, alerts will be sent directly to law enforcement or affected areas of the private sector, while in others, alerts will be issued more broadly to the American people through both official and media channels—including a designated DHS webpage ( as well as social media channels including Facebook and Twitter.  Additionally, NTAS will have a “sunset provision,” meaning that individual threat alerts will be issued with a specified end date. Alerts may be extended if new information becomes available or if the threat evolves significantly.

According to the Associated Press, NTAS will be in place by April 27.



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