The Emergency Alert System Has Been Tested – What Next?

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By: Damon Penn, Assistant Administrator, National Continuity Programs

(Editor's note: updated 6:30pm EST)

After years of hard work with all of our partners, and months of providing updates on this blog, today, FEMA, the FCC, NOAA and communications service providers, and many others administered our first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. We are currently collecting data about the initial results, and it will take the test’s participants several weeks to send us the full results of their tests.

As we have been explaining throughout this process, this initial test was the first time we have gotten a sense of the reach and scope of this technology. It was our opportunity to get a sense of what worked, what didn’t and additional improvements that need to be made to the system as we move forward. It’s only through comprehensively testing, analyzing, and improving these technologies that we can ensure the most effective and reliable emergency alert and warning systems available at a moment’s notice in a time of real national emergency.

This nationwide test served the purpose for which it was intended – to identify gaps and generate a comprehensive set of data to help strengthen our ability to communicate during real emergencies. Based on preliminary data, media outlets in large portions of the country successfully received the test message, but it wasn’t received by some viewers or listeners.

As we often say here at FEMA, we’re just one part of a much, much larger team. To prepare for this test FEMA worked closely with state and local officials, the broadcast community, as well as nongovernmental organizations including the disability and faith-based communities.

So now that the test has occurred, we know many of you may be wondering…what next?

Well, first, we’ll be spending the next few weeks gathering test result data from the test’s participants, and feedback from all of our stakeholders. Under the FCC’s rules, test participants have 45 days from the date of the test to analyze their data and provide a full report to the FCC on the scope and reach of the test. In the meantime, FEMA is also interested in hearing from any stakeholders who want to share feedback about how the test worked and ways we can continue to improve it. We encourage you to email us at ipaws@dhs.gov with any tips, suggestions or input you may have.

And looking ahead, this test was just the beginning of our much larger efforts to strengthen and upgrade our nation’s public alert and warning system.

As we work to build a more modern system, we will continue to test the other newer technologies and communications tools that are also going to be part of our public alert and warning networks, such as cell phones, smart phones, the internet and social media networks.

So to all of our partners, including the public, we want to thank you for your role in helping make this test happen. We look forward to working with all of you to incorporate the lessons learned from this test as we keep working a robust, resilient, and fully accessible next generation alerting system that can provide timely and accurate alerts to the American people.

Last Updated: 
06/18/2012 - 15:37
Posted on Wed, 11/09/2011 - 15:24
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Comments

Anonymous:

i hate that test....even when they do it on a ,mon...

i hate that test....even when they do it on a ,monthly basis....
Anonymous:

EAS Test = Huge fail in Washington. My NWR station...

EAS Test = Huge fail in Washington. My NWR station (WWF56, 162.450) was one of the only stations in the US to broadcast the test. I was monitoring KWIQ (100.3 FM). My weather radios went off from WWF56. Both WWF56 and KWIQ broadcasted the data bursts then the attention tones for like 65-75 seconds strait (the 853 hz tone) then the words "This is a test" then the EOM tones then went back to normal programming.
Anonymous:

All the people that wrote to report "FAIL&quo...

All the people that wrote to report "FAIL" and those that are blindly criticizing the effort - have themselves FAILED to understand that this was a TEST and the objective of a TEST is to flush out the bugs. Is it perfect? NOPE and I doubt it was expected to be. However, it does result in the ability of those trying to implement this system to make changes so that subsequent TEST runs of the EAS will have better results. A simple statement identifying your geographic location and details of your experience without all the biased criticism would be a lot more beneficial than posting rants about how poorly the effort was managed.

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