Ed. note: This was originally posted on the Department of Homeland Security blog.
In today’s threat environment – more than ever – we know that our security is a shared responsibility and the best security strategy is one that gets the public involved. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is focused on strengthening our country’s defenses by getting all stakeholders – including the public – the information and resources they need in order to play their part in helping to secure the country.
We’ve begun a great deal of this work by building the capabilities of fusion centers, launching the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, and expanding the “If You See Something, Say Something,” campaign. Now, we are taking another major step forward through the new National Terrorism Advisory – or NTAS – system. This new system –which will be fully implemented on April 26 – counts on the American public as a key partner in securing our country.
NTAS is built on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact you – the public – we will tell you. We will provide whatever information we can so you know how to protect yourselves, your families, and your communities.
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. These alerts will include a clear statement that there is an imminent threat or elevated threat, a summary of the potential threat, actions being taken to ensure public safety, and steps that individuals and communities can take to protect themselves and help prevent, mitigate or respond to the threat. These alerts will also have a specified end date.
For Americans, this will mean some visible changes. You won’t hear the old color-code announcements when you go to airports, or see them when you visit a government website. Instead, when a threat arises that could affect you and your family, you will hear about it through an NTAS Alert issued by DHS through official channels, such as the DHS website, the news media, and via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
During past attacks and incidents, we have seen the life-saving contributions of everyday Americans who alert authorities to something suspicious and help avert danger. We strongly believe that, if we are facing a particular threat, the American people should be equipped with whatever information we can provide so you know how to protect yourselves, your families, and your communities. The new NTAS system will do just that, and is an important part of the ongoing efforts to make our country safer and more secure.
Janet Napolitano is the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.