NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano unveiled the replacement to the color-coded terror alert system at an event in New York City on Wednesday.
The often-criticized color-based terror alert levels were implemented in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.
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The updated system will be in place by next week and consists of just two warning levels: elevated and imminent. An elevated alert would be issued to prevent an attack and would warn against a credible threat but likely not specify timing or targets. An imminent alert would warn about a credible, specific, and impending terror threat or ongoing attack.
“These alerts are designed for when there’s specific credible information where people need factual content in order to know what they need to do — how they protect their families and how they can help us protect the communities,” Napolitano said.
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The new system also formalizes what observers said has for the last several years essentially been a “gut call” on issuing a threat.
At the first sign of danger, a newly-formed special counter-terrorism advisory board would have just half an hour to meet to begin inter-agency intelligence sharing. An official threat warning must then be issued within two hours.
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The Department of Homeland Security‘s new approach will also favor the use of social networking. When it comes to notifying the public, officials plan to use Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about the elevated or imminent threat warnings.
Any alert will automatically expire after a specific time, normally about two weeks, unless new information shows that the threat persists.
The Department was also taking a cue from New York’s “if you see something, say something” campaign, asking the public to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, and report it.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told CBS 2’s Don Dahler he was not a fan of the old system, but likes the redesign.
“I think it is a sound, common sense approach to distributing terror-related information, both to law enforcement and to the public. And I am confident that it will better serve the unique needs of New York City,” Kelly said.
Are you glad they are replacing the old terror alert system? Is the use of social networks to spread word of terror alerts a good idea? Sound off in our comments section.