The Federal Emergency Management Agency has proposed Sept. 20 at 1:18 P.M. CST as the date and time for the next nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. After conducting a first-ever national EAS test in 2011, the 2018 test would be a fourth dry run of an infrastructure designed to allow a President to speak to the country in case of a national emergency.
FEMA is proposing a simultaneous first-ever national test of the Wireless Emergency Alert or WEA. It would involve sending an 87-character test message to be displayed on mobile handsets. “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed,” the text message would read.
Since wireless emergency alert capabilities launched in 2012, there have been numerous tests of the system targeting specific geographical locations. But this would be the first time a WEA alert is distributed across the entire country and to overseas U.S. territories. A backup date for both tests would be Oct. 3.
In a letter disclosing the plan to the Federal Communications Commission, Alfred Kenyon, chief of the customer support branch in FEMA’s IPAWS Program Office, wrote, “This test is necessary because it will determine if carrier WEA configuration, systems and networks can and will process a Presidential WEA delivering the message via all WEA-enabled cell sites with minimal latency. Public safety officials need to be sure that in times of an emergency or disaster, they have methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public when needed.”
Kenyon continued, “Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems is a way to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine what technological improvements need to be made.”
According to federal officials, since the WEA system launched six years ago it has been used more than 33,000 times to warn the public on their cell phones about dangerous weather, missing children and other critical situations.
You can follow the link below to FEMA’s website for additional information regarding the test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).