Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test Scheduled

The first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will be conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) on November 9, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

The EAS has never been used on a nationwide basis before, and only previously has been used by State and local governments to send weather alerts and other emergencies. The purpose of the upcoming test is to assess the readiness and effectiveness of the current system.

FEMA is the lead agency in all operational and management functions of the EAS, while the FCC is an independent agency that presides over EAS rules and handles test reporting data directly from EAS Participants. The NWS will play a key role in the dissemination of local warnings via the EAS. EAS Participants include all broadcasters, satellite and digital radio and television, cable television and wireline video providers who ensure the system is at a constant state of readiness.

It is important to note that the agencies involved will not be using a pass or fail measure on this first test.  The first step will be testing the current readiness and effectiveness of the system as it exists today.  Continual testing will be required to identify necessary improvements in the future.

Thanks to the Alaska EAS Tests in 2010 & 2011 and a tsunami live-code test in the U.S. Virgin Islands, IPAWS has already begun to develop best practices and establish open communication with the EAS Community.

According to the FEMA website, “The alert and warning landscape is in an important state of transition; from the current system of radio, television, cable, satellite, and wireline broadcast media-based alerting to a future system that integrates new technologies for a more universal access to alert and warning messages. Future testing of the EAS will assess the effectiveness and reliability of other technologies to achieve the ultimate goal of timely alert and warning to American public in the preservation of life and property.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/eas_info.shtm

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