FEMA soon will test 'presidential alert' system for national eme

Pauline Gross
September 18, 2018

The Wireless Emergency Alert system message test is being carried out by FEMA in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, FEMA said in a statement posted on its website Thursday.

Cell phone users may receive a text from President Donald Trump next Thursday as the Federal Emergency Management Agency conducts its first presidential-level Wireless Emergency Alert test.

The tweet includes a link to FEMA's website that contains answers to numerous questions Americans may have about the system and the test.

The message should read, "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed".

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FEMA will also run a test of its Emergency Alert System (EAS) for radio and television broadcasters the same day, beginning two minutes after the WEA test. All mobile phones that are switched on and within the range of a cell tower should receive the message if their provider is participating in the test.

The test is meant to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster.

The WEA test will be sent through IPAWS, as part of the nation's modern alert and warning infrastructure that automatically authenticates alerts. FEMA is likely hoping to avoid a repeat of the debacle surrounding Hawaii's system test, which sent out a false alarm regarding an inbound missile. This alert system was created for basically the same objective and was meant to address the fact that television and radio may not be the best way to communicate crucial information in a timely manner. For a short period of time at least, this caused thousands of Hawaiians to seek shelter against what they thought was the unthinkable but which ultimately turned out to be a big mistake. We suggest that citizens bookmark the OES webpage and official social media sites in advance, as a means to quickly obtain more information or clarification to alert and warning messages. However, the system doesn't work that way. It began operating in 2012 and has been used regionally.

If for some reason the test is postponed, it will be rescheduled for October 3, the FEMA release says.

Other reports by GizPress

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