WASHINGTON—Regulators have set the date of the second nationwide test of the digital Emergency Alert System. The Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is conducting the all-hands EAS test Sept. 28, 2016, at 2:20 p.m. Eastern Time.
A secondary test date is scheduled for Oct. 5, 2016, if necessary. EAS participants must be prepared to participate in a test on both the primary and alternate test dates. All EAS participants are required to participate in this nationwide test.
The nationwide test will assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS, with a particular emphasis on testing FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS, the integrated gateway through which common alerting protocol-based EAS alerts are disseminated to EAS participants—virtually all U.S. broadcast licensees, some cable headends and various and sundry other TV distributors.
The test message will clearly state that the alert is only a test of the EAS. FEMA’s alert will be transmitted in English and Spanish and include both audio and the text of the test message, which can be used to populate an accessible video crawl.
These improvements are intended help ensure that all members of the public, including non-English speakers and individuals with disabilities, will receive emergency information. The test will provide an opportunity to evaluate this and other measures that the FCC has adopted to address issues identified in the first nationwide test of the new IPAWS-based EAS platform, conducted Nov. 9, 2011at 2 p.m. ET.
The results of this second nationwide EAS test will be captured and analyzed using the EAS Test Reporting System (ERTS). All EAS participants are reminded that they are required to register with the reporting system and must complete the filing of ETRS Form One on or before Aug. 26, 2016.
EAS participants are instructed to file the “day of test” information sought by ETRS Form Two at or before 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sept. 28, 2016.
EAS participants are further instructed to file the detailed post-test data sought by ETRS Form Three on or before Nov, 14, 2016.
Organizers encourage EAS participants to take steps, in coordination with their State Emergency Coordination Councils, in preparation for this test, such as:
· Reviewing and, if necessary, updating state EAS plans;
· Ensuring that a copy of the EAS Operating Handbook is located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations and is immediately available to operators;
· Reviewing the EAS Operating Handbook for the actions to be taken by operators upon receipt of the test alert and tailoring any actions as necessary that are specific to the EAS participants’ facilities;
· Ensuring that EAS equipment operates in compliance with the commission rules, such as being capable of receiving and processing the national periodic test code and the “six zeroes” national location code;
· Upgrading EAS equipment software and firmware to the most recent version;
· Updating ETRS Form One filings to reflect changes to identifying information;
· Manually synchronizing EAS equipment clocks to the official time provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, if an EAS participant’s equipment does not automatically synchronize to an Internet time source.
Members of the public and interested stakeholder organizations that are in position to observe test results in their communities can provide useful feedback on the improvements to the EAS, any problems observed, or any other complications in the delivery of the EAS message during the nationwide test by reporting their observations to the Public Safety Support Center.
Also see.... the July 18 Public Notice from the FCC.
July 18, 2016 “Pubcasters Share EAS Successes, Press for Change”
“Smartphones with activated FM chips capable of receiving free over-the-air emergency broadcasts could serve as lifelines to people facing dangerous situations, especially if the powergrid is down or cellular service becomes overloaded or disabled.”
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