Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced April 20 the implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Terrorism Advisory System — a robust terrorism advisory system that provides timely information to the public about credible terrorist threats and replaces the former color-coded alert system.
As part of the announcement, Napolitano also released a public guide outlining the new system to the American public, along with an example of an NTAS alert that would be issued to the public if the government were to receive information about a specific or credible terrorist threat.
“The terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly over the past 10 years, and in today’s environment more than ever, we know that the best security strategy is one that counts on the American public as a key partner in securing our country,” Napolitano said. “The National Terrorism Advisory System, which was developed in close collaboration with our federal, state, local, tribal and private sector partners, will provide the American public with information about credible threats so that they can better protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”
Under NTAS, DHS will coordinate with other federal entities to issue detailed alerts to the public when the federal government receives information about a credible terrorist threat.
NTAS alerts provide a concise summary of the potential threat including geographic region, mode of transportation, or critical infrastructure potentially affected by the threat, actions being taken to ensure public safety, as well as recommended steps that individuals, communities, business and governments can take to help prevent, mitigate or respond to a threat. NTAS alerts will include a clear statement on the nature of the threat, which will be defined in one of two ways:
• Elevated Threat: warns of a credible terrorist threat against the United States
• Imminent Threat: warns of a credible, specific, and impending terrorist threat against the United States
Depending on the nature of the threat, alerts may be sent to law enforcement, distributed to affected areas of the private sector, or issued more broadly to the public through both official and social media channels, including a designated DHS web page (www.dhs.gov/alerts), Facebook, and via Twitter @NTASAlerts. NTAS alerts and posters will also be displayed in places such as transit hubs, airports and government buildings.
NTAS threat alerts will be issued for a specific time period and will automatically expire. Alerts may be extended if new information becomes available or as a specific threat evolves.
On Jan. 27, Napolitano announced the new NTAS system during her “State of America’s Homeland Security” address —kicking off the 90-day transition period with state and local governments, law enforcement, private and non-profit sector partners, airports, and other transportation hubs.
In July 2009, Napolitano formed a bipartisan task force of security experts, state and local elected and law enforcement officials, and other key stakeholders to assess the effectiveness of the color-coded alert system. The results of this assessment formed the basis of NTAS.
DHS encourages citizens to follow NTAS alerts for information about threats and take an active role in security by reporting suspicious activity to local law enforcement authorities through the “If You See Something, Say Something” public awareness campaign.
For more information on the National Terrorism Advisory System or to receive NTAS alerts, visit www.dhs.gov/alerts.