Originally published: February 3, 2011
Last updated: March 13, 2011 - 5:55pm
The Federal Communications Commission took action to help pave the way for the first-ever Presidential alert to be aired across the United States on the Nation's Emergency Alert System (EAS). The national test will help determine the reliability of the EAS system and its effectiveness in notifying the public of emergencies and potential danger nationwide and regionally. The FCC voted unanimously to adopt a Third Report and Order that sets forth rules that will facilitate the federal government's efforts to conduct a national EAS test by transmitting a Presidential Alert from Washington (DC) to television and radio broadcasters, cable systems and satellite service providers who will then deliver the alert to the American public.
The test will assist the FCC, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS), with assessing the current system and better determining what improvements need to be made to further strengthen the Nation's EAS, particularly as broadband technologies continue to emerge. Although the date for the National EAS test has yet to be determined, establishing the rules is an important first step in the process.
As Next Generation EAS systems become operational over the next few years, they will complement other public alert and warning systems now being developed, including FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and the Commercial Mobile Alert System that will enable consumers to receive alerts through a variety of multi-media platforms on their smart-phones, blackberries and other mobile broadband devices.
The national test will require EAS participants to be part of the exercise and to receive and transmit a live code that includes a Presidential alert message to their respective viewers and listeners. The FCC, FEMA and NWS, in coordination with EAS participants, will work together to launch a nationwide EAS Public Education and Awareness Campaign that will include press statements, workshops, regional outreach, and television and radio public service announcements targeted to consumers in general, and more specifically persons with disabilities and seniors, as well as first responders and state, local and tribal governments. The outreach will help ensure that the American public is aware that the national test will be conducted and the benefits of these kinds of public alerts in a real emergency.
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