Advisory system replaces color-coded terror alerts

CNJ staff

The Department of Homeland Security has implemented a terror alert system which incorporates the growing trend of social networking.

The National Terrorism Advisory System replaces the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System.

The new system is intended to give Americans more specific information on an alert, rather than the vague dread brought on by a color alert.

“This new system will more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private sector,” a statement on the DHS website said.

The DHS website goes on to say that the system recognizes that Americans all share responsibility for the nation’s security, and should always be aware of the heightened risk of terrorist attack in the United States and what they should do.

Alerts and information can be found at

1. What will happen to the color-coded advisory system?

The new National Terrorism Advisory System replaces the Homeland Security Advisory System that has been in place since 2002. The National Terrorism Advisory System, or NTAS, will include information specific to the particular credible threat, and will not use a color-coded scale.

2. How does the new system work?

When there is credible information about a threat, an NTAS Alert will be shared with the American public. It may include specific information, if available, about the nature of the threat, including the geographic region, mode of transportation, or critical infrastructure potentially affected by the threat, as well as steps that individuals and communities can take to protect themselves and help prevent, mitigate or respond to the threat. The advisory will clearly indicate whether the threat is Elevated, if we have no specific information about the timing or location, or Imminent, if we believe the threat is impending or very soon.

3. As a citizen, how will I find out that an NTAS Alert has been announced?

The Secretary of Homeland Security will announce the alerts publicly. Alerts will simultaneously be posted at and released to the news media for distribution. The Department of Homeland Security will also distribute alerts across its social media channels, including the Department’s blog, Twitter stream, Facebook page, and RSS feed.

4. What should Americans do when an NTAS Alert is announced?

The NTAS Alert informs the American public about credible terrorism threats, and encourages citizens to report suspicious activity. Where possible and applicable, NTAS Alerts will include steps that individuals and communities can take to protect themselves to help prevent, mitigate or respond to the threat. Individuals should review the information contained in the alert, and based upon the circumstances, take the recommended precautionary or preparedness measures for themselves and their families.

5. How should I report suspicious activity?

Citizens should report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement authorities. The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign across the United States encourages all citizens to be vigilant for indicators of potential terrorist activity, and to follows NTAS Alert for information about threats in specific places or for individuals exhibiting certain types of suspicious activity.

6. I get my news online, so how will I find out about an NTAS Alert?

Americans can go to to see the most recent advisories. Additionally, advisories will be sent out widely through social and mainstream media.

7. How will NTAS Alerts be canceled or updated?

The NTAS Alerts carry an expiration date and will be automatically canceled on that date. If the threat information changes for an alert, the Secretary of Homeland Security may announce an updated NTAS Alert. All changes, including the announcement that cancels an NTAS Alert, will be distributed the same way as the original alert.

8. Do these alerts apply to Americans in other countries?

NTAS Alerts apply only to threats in the United States and its possessions. The Department of State issues security advisory information for U.S. citizens overseas or traveling in foreign countries.

Source: Department of Homeland Security