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Pinedale Online > News > October 2011 > TV/Radio/Satellite/Cable top-down EAS test Nov. 9th
TV/Radio/Satellite/Cable top-down EAS test Nov. 9th
Nation-wide test of Emergency Alert System
by Pinedale Online!
October 24, 2011

At 2:00 PM (EST) on Wednesday, November 9th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Homeland Security and National Weather Service will conduct the first-ever, nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The stated purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of a top-down review of the entire EAS system as a public alert mechanism.

According to the FCC website, "The EAS is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas."

The FCC, in conjunction with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service (NWS), implements the EAS at the federal level. The President has sole responsibility for determining when the EAS will be activated at the national level, and has delegated this authority to the director of FEMA. FEMA is responsible for implementation of the national-level activation of the EAS, tests, and exercises. The NWS develops emergency weather information to alert the public about imminent dangerous weather conditions.

The EAS provides the ability to send messages regionally or nationally, though it has never been activated at these levels. "A major disaster like an earthquake or tsunami could necessitate the use of the EAS on a regional or national basis to send life-saving information to the public," the FCC website says.

Pursuant to the FCC’s rules, local and state components of the EAS are tested on a weekly and monthly basis, respectively. Although the EAS has been in existence for over 15 years, there has never been an end-to-end, nationwide test of the system. The FCC wants to know that the system will work as intended should public safety officials ever need to send an alert or warning to a large region of the United States. "Only a top-down, simultaneous test of all components of the EAS can provide an appropriate diagnosis of system-wide performance," the FCC website explains.

On November 9, at 2:00 PM EST, FEMA will transmit the EAS code for national level emergencies to Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations in the national level of the EAS. The PEP stations will then rebroadcast the alert to the general public in their broadcast vicinity, as well as to the next level of EAS Participants monitoring them. This should continue through all levels of the system, until the national alert has been distributed throughout the entire country.

The ultimate goal of the FCC is to have an integrated public alert and warning system that will use multiple communications technologies to transmit national emergency alerts.

The test is expected to last approximately 3 minutes.

Click here for more information about the test:

Pinedale Online > News > October 2011 > TV/Radio/Satellite/Cable top-down EAS test Nov. 9th

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