The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau said that the performance during a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in September appeared improved from a nationwide test last year. “Initial test data indicate that the majority of EAS Participants successfully received and retransmitted the National Periodic Test (NPT) code used for the test,” the bureau said in a public notice released yesterday in PS docket 15-94.
It said that “95.8% of test participants successfully received the test alert (95.4% successfully received in 2016)” and that “91.9% of test participants successfully retransmitted the test alert (85.8% successfully retransmitted in 2016).”
The bureau also said that “89.0% of test participants that filed Form Three [in November] reported no complications in receiving the test alert (81.5% reported no complications receiving the alert in 2016)” and that “88.3% of test participants that filed Form Three reported no complications in retransmitting the test alert (80.2% reported no complications retransmitting the alert in 2016).”
Moreover, “207 test participants reported to have retransmitted the IPAWS [Integrated Public Alert and Warning System]-generated Spanish language version of the alert (75 retransmitted in Spanish in 2016),” according to the bureau. And “40.7% of test participants that filed Form Three and received the alert reported to have first received it over-the-air (56.5% in 2016), while 59.3% of such test participants reported to have first received the alert from IPAWS (43.5% in 2016).”
“Together with FEMA, the Bureau will continue to analyze the results of the 2017 nationwide EAS test and release more detailed findings when available,” the public notice said.
In April, the bureau released a report that recommended the agency take several actions in the wake of last year’s nationwide EAS test, the second such test, including encouraging the use of IPAWS as the primary source of alerts and examining how to improve and expand IPAWS alert content (TR Daily, April 21).
“The 2016 Nationwide EAS Test largely was a success, demonstrating that the national EAS has been significantly strengthened since the 2011 nationwide test,” the report concluded. “The test also highlights several areas in which the EAS can continue to be improved. PSHSB will continue to work with FEMA, EAS Participants, and other EAS stakeholders to address these problems and to ensure that the EAS can deliver timely and accurate national alerts and critical emergency information to the public.”
A bureau report released in 2013 about the 2011 test, the first such nationwide test, said that it “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 (TR Daily, April 15, 2013). That 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