The 1st ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert/Broadcast System? Really?
Yes! And this isn't just any ordinary test, this is an actual simulation on all chanels at the same time! That means there's a few things you need to know, so we've prepared this FAQ to give you the information you'll need.
What is the EAS? Why a National Test Important? What will happen during this National Test? When will this test occur? Who will conduct the nationwide EAS Test? How Can I participate? Where Can I Find More Information On The EAS?
Now for a little history lesson: Most of us grew up knowing this as the Emergency Broadcast System but the system was renamed back in 1994 with the thought of accomodating systems other than broadcast (although we're not exactly sure what systems other than broadcast existed back then!)
Anyways, back in 1994 the EAS was created as the latest in a series of alert and warning systems that originally began with the Control of Electromagnetic Radiation (CONELRAD) program, established by President Harry Truman in 1951. The CONELRAD was replaced in 1963 by the Emergency Broadcast System (that's what most of us know it as), which remained in place until 1994.
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is really more of an appropriate name because the EAS now leverages the capabilities of participating analog and digital radio, television, cable and satellite providers working in concert to distribute alert and warning messages to the public (see this is still broadcast but read on!).
A new piece of the system, Integrated Public Alert And Warning System (IPAWS) allows messages to be transmitted over a much broader set of communication services including the Internet so that companies like NeighborhoodWatchAlerts.com can rebroadcast those alerts to civilians in methods more convenient and conducive to their mobile lifestyles (i.e. emails and text messages which you can get while at work).
The alert messages can be originated by emergency management authorities at all levels of Federal, State, County and city government to warn the public of imminent emergencies.
Well, because believe it or not, there has NEVER been a full test of the Emergency Alert System or any of its predecessors. Since we hear/see the monthly test we think the entire system is working but in reality those test are conducted locally so we have no idea if the entire system will work or not.So, we think... OK, we're pretty sure, the system works but in tests in Nevada only about 70% of the system functioned the way it was supposed to.
Personally, I say kudos to FEMA for getting ahead of the curve and giving it a good test!
Although the EAS Test may resemble the periodic, monthly EAS tests that most Americans are already familiar with, there will be some differences in what viewers will see and hear. The audio message will be the same for all EAS Participants; however, due to limitations in the EAS, the video test message scroll may not be the same or indicate that “This is a test.” This is due to the use of the live EAN code – the same code that would be used in an actual emergency.
Did you get that last part? We're using a code for an actual emergency so the text at the top of the television screen may indicate that an “Emergency Action Notification has been issued.” This notification is used to disseminate a national alert and in this case, the test. In addition, the background image that appears on video screens during an alert may indicate that “This is a test,” but in some instances there might not be an image at all.
Users on NeighborhoodWatchAlerts.com will receive emails and, where appropriate, text messages alerting them to the National Alert.
November 9th, 2011 at 2:00p EST. This time was chosen because it minimizes impact on rush hour traffic and should reach the broadest “awake” audience.
The nationwide EAS Test will be conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). FEMA is the lead agency in all operational and management functions of the EAS; developing national alert and warning capabilities, and integrating new technologies.
NeighborhoodWatchAlerts.com is the only non-radio / non-television company authorized to carry alerts from the Emergency Alerting System. Users (our service is free) will receive these and other safety alerts via email and/or text message.
- If you are a member of NeighborhoodWatchAlerts.com you will receive email and/or text message alerts as part of the test, otherwise you will only know about the test if you are listening to the radio or watching TV.
- Watch for our alerts AND tune in to your favorite radio and/or television stations
- Even if you're not a m, you can still use our EAS Status Report Form to report which stations are broadcasting the EAS test (you will need the station identifier WS__-TV or WX__ -Radio) and we'll report these back to FEMA.
We have compiled a list of available resources including scripts for Public Service Announcements.
- National EAS Test Informational Toolkit v1 8-15-2011
- Prepared and Ready - The Final Stretch Before the Nationwide EAS Test Webinar and PSA Scripts
- Best Practices Guide