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New Homeland Security alerts will be two-tiered, more specific

From NBC's Pete Williams
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the government's new threat warning system will consist of two levels -- elevated and imminent, replacing the five-tiered, color coded system in place since 2002.
 
"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," Napolitano said in remarks prepared for a speech Thursday on the status of America's homeland security.
 
The new alerts, she said, "will provide a concise summary of the potential threat, information about actions being taken to ensure public safety, and recommended steps that individuals and communities can take."
 
In some cases, Napolitano said, the alerts may be communicated directly to law enforcement or to segments of the private sector, such as shopping malls or hotels. They will be specific to the threat and may recommend that people take certain actions, such as looking for suspicious behavior. And the alerts will include an end date.
 
The new system will go into effect in three months, by the end of April. Under the current advisory system, the nation's airports are at orange or high, while the rest of the country is at yellow or elevated. During the first four years of the colored system, the threat level was changed 16 times, both up and down, but it has not been changed in four-and-a-half years, despite several serious security threats. That fact alone reflects what many have seen as the old system's declining utility in communicating useful information.