Mobile Technology and the Transformation of Public Alert and Warning
by Hamilton Bean
October 2019, 207pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6602-9
$85, £66, 74€, A117
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6603-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The devastating 2017 Northern California fires spurred emergency managers to demand upgrades to the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, including improved geo-targeting and multilingual messages.

This timely book provides the inside story of the development of mobile public alert and warning technology in the United States and addresses similar systems being used in Australia, Canada, Japan, and the Netherlands.

This book provides a comprehensive account of how mobile-smartphone systems are transforming the practice of public alert and warning in the United States. Recent events have vaulted mobile alert and warning technology to the forefront of public debates concerning the hazards of the digital age. False alarms of ballistic missile attacks on Hawaii and Japan, the non-use of mobile alerts during the Northern California wildfires, and the role this technology plays in supporting police manhunts and counterterrorism efforts have prompted reconsideration of how these systems are used.

Drawing upon interviews with officials, executives, experts, and citizens, the book provides an in-depth analysis of the events and contexts influencing the trajectory of mobile public alert and warning and charts a course for its improvement. The book first introduces readers to the high stakes involved in the transformation of public alert and warning, explaining how new research is revealing the benefits, limitations, and risks of mobile technology in the disaster communication context. Three case studies then illustrate issues of risk, trust, and appropriateness in mobile public alert and warning.


  • Offers a critical assessment of the development, use, and consequences of mobile public alert and warning technologies in the United States from 2006 to the present
  • Provides a comparative discussion of the development, use, and consequences of mobile public alert and warning technologies in Australia, Canada, Japan, and the Netherlands
  • Offers a reader-friendly, state-of-the-art assessment of empirical research concerning mobile public alert and warning messages
  • Includes three case studies that show the relevance of research with respect to the efficacy of mobile alert and warning technology in response to danger
Hamilton Bean, PhD, is associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado, Denver. He has published more than 25 academic studies of communication and security, including Praeger's No More Secrets: Open Source Information and the Reshaping of U.S. Intelligence. He is affiliated with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and from 2012 to 2015, served as principal investigator for "Comprehensive Testing of Imminent Threat Public Messages for Mobile Devices," a U.S. Department of Homeland Security–funded research collaboration.


Sue DeWine Distinguished Scholarly Book Award 2021—NCA's Applied Communication Division, November 15, 2021


"Hamilton Bean’s Mobile Technology and the Transformation of Public Alert and Warning provides an admirably detailed look at a single technology, the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA), in the United States in the years since 2006."—New Media & Society, July 23, 2020

"Recommended. All readers."—Choice, July 1, 2020

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