Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

November 8, 2011

Nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test on November 9, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Filed under: Misc — Freddie Keel @ 6:47 am

Nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test Introduction

FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will conduct the first nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test on November 9, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Nationwide EAS Test Frequently Asked Questions

The national-level EAS leverages the communications support of all participating analog and digital radio, television, cable, satellite, and wireline providers (also known as EAS Participants) through specialized EAS equipment. A single, live-code alert, called the Emergency Action Notification, (EAN) is sent simultaneously to Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations across the country. PEP stations are designated to relay national alerts to the public and other stations in their coverage area. Local Primary (LP-1) EAS Participants monitor the PEP stations and other sources for an EAS message. Other EAS Participating stations also monitor at least two sources (in most cases the PEP and LP-1 stations) to receive the EAS message, and broadcast the message to the public in their area.

Has there ever been an activation of the national-level EAS?

Although the EAS is frequently used by State and local governments to send weather alerts and other emergencies, there has never been a national activation of the system. The purpose of the November 9, 2011 Test is to assess the readiness and effectiveness of the current system and identify incremental improvements to better serve our communities in the preservation of life and property.

Why test the national-level EAS?

FCC’s Part 11 Rules require EAS Participants to regularly test the system on a weekly and monthly basis, called required monthly and required weekly tests. Although the EAS has been in existence for over 15 years, a nationwide test of the system has never occurred. FEMA and federal partners are working with the EAS Community to assess if the national-level system will work as designed should officials ever need to send a national alert. A simultaneous test can provide an accurate picture of the current state of the system and the improvements necessary for a more reliable and resilient EAS.

Who will conduct a nationwide EAS Test?

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). The three federal partners have EAS management roles. FEMA is the lead agency in all operational and management functions of the EAS, developing national alert and warning capabilities, and integrating new technologies. The FCC is an independent agency that grants licenses, and presides over EAS rules and the rulemaking process, enforces rules, and handles test reporting data directly from EAS Participants. FCC rules regulate the transmission of EAS alerts. The NWS is a key player in the dissemination of local warnings via the EAS.

Will an Emergency Action Termination (EAT) message be used?

An EAT will not be used during the Test. An End of Message (EOM) will be sent to return the station to regular programming.

What FIPS code will be used during the Test?

For the Test, the Washington, D.C. FIPS code will be used. Most EAS devices forward the EAN with the DC FIPS code. FEMA only originates an EAN with the Washington, D.C. FIPS code.

Will FEMA and the FCC specifically test for Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) compliance?

The first nationwide EAS Test will not specifically test for CAP compliance, however CAP enabled EAS equipment should receive and relay the EAN in the same manner as legacy EAS equipment. Future tests of the EAS will incrementally integrate other technologies after we assess the current state of the system.

Will NOAA Weather Radio carry the Test? 

NOAA Weather Radio will not transmit the EAS Test.  There is currently no mechanism to transport this type of message to NWR transmitters.  Additionally, the Test will use the EAN code where the audio message exceeds the two minute audio time limit allowed by Specific Area Messaging Encoding (SAME) and the EAS.

How can EAS Participants prepare for the Test?

FEMA and the FCC will work to provide equipment installation, operation, and configuration technical assistance, best practices, and a variety of other engagement activities with EAS participants to continue the dialogue of incremental improvements to the system. On June 9th, FEMA, the FCC and EAS Community Leaders and Experts participated in a virtual roundtable discussion on how to improve and prepare EAS Participants for the upcoming Test to support a best practice guide. FEMA and the FCC will continually improve the best practice guide in future roundtable and webinars and events (please see the Event Calendar for upcoming activities).

What will people hear and see during the Test?

During the test, listeners will hear a message indicating that “This is a 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. 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.

There are several limitations to the current EAS for individuals with access and functional needs. FEMA and the FCC are committed to providing organizations and the EAS community with information well in advance of the Test. FEMA and the FCC will further engage the EAS community to better understand the wide range of information and access needs in preparation for the national EAS. IPAWS has been performing outreach to access and functional needs organizations in several different forums, including working groups and roundtables led by the FEMA Office of Disability Integration and Coordination, with representation from multiple FEMA program offices, other Department of Homeland Security components, and other Federal Departments and Agencies.

How long will the Test last?

The test will last for approximately 30 seconds.

Why is the Test being conducted at this particular date and time?

The November 9 date is near the end of hurricane season and before the severe winter weather season. The 2 p.m. Eastern broadcast time will minimize disruption during rush hours, while ensuring that the test can occur during normal business hours across several time zones.

What is the source of FEMA’s and the FCC’s authority for conducting the Test?

FEMA administers the EAS and has the authority to ensure the conduct of training, tests, and exercises of the EAS by Executive Order 13407. FCC’s rules require that EAS Participants take part in nationwide tests of the EAS.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: