The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today officially announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in collaboration with the Commission, plans to conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. EDT. A secondary test date has been set for Oct. 5, if necessary. The national test will be the second such test ever conducted.
“All EAS Participants are required to participate in this nationwide test,” the bureau said in a public notice. “The nationwide test will assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS, with a particular emphasis on testing FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the integrated gateway through which common alerting protocol-based (CAP-based) EAS alerts are disseminated to EAS Participants. The test message will clearly state that the alert is only a test of the EAS. FEMA’s alert will be transmitted in English and Spanish and include both audio and the text of the test message, which can be used to populate an accessible video crawl. These improvements will help ensure that all members of the public, including non-English speakers and individuals with disabilities, will receive emergency information. The test will provide an opportunity to evaluate this and other measures that the FCC has adopted to address issues identified in connection with the 2011 Nationwide EAS Test. The results of the nationwide EAS test will be captured and analyzed using the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS).”
EAS participants should take steps to be ready for the test, including by updating state EAS plans, upgrading equipment and software, and synchronizing EAS equipment clocks, the bureau said. In April, FEMA notified the FCC that it planned to conduct the national EAS test on Sept. 28 (TRDaily April 18). Last year, the FCC adopted a sixth report and order that established specific operational standards for use during future tests of the EAS and during actual emergencies (TRDaily, June 3, 2015).
A report released in 2013 by the Public Safety Bureau said that the 2011 nationwide test “demonstrated that the national EAS distribution architecture is basically sound,” but it also “uncovered several problems that impeded the ability of some EAS Participants to receive and/or retransmit” alerts (TRDaily, April 15, 2013). The report recommended a number of steps that should be taken to strengthen the EAS and said that another nationwide test should be conducted after that. – Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org