FCC: Presidential emergency alerts to be tested
Feb 7, 2011
Everybody has heard the national Emergency Alert System (EAS). Those familiar “duck calls” that reassure listeners “THIS is a test…this is ONLY a test…”
The FCC is planning an upgrade to the tests by including presidential announcements in the system.
Lisa Fowlkes, deputy chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC, explained to the Federal Drive the Presidential Alert isn’t new.
“The primary goal is to provide the President with a mechanism to communicate with American public during times of national emergency,” said Fowlkes. The change, she said, is that prior to last week’s order there was no rule in place to call for or allow a test from top to bottom.
There’s never been a test from top to bottom where it’s issued by FEMA and it goes straight down to all the different levels of EAS to the American public. So this is a way for us to glean, okay, if there were an actual emergency and the federal government needed to activate the Presidential EAS, making sure that it actually works the way it’s designed to.
Now that there’s a rule in place, said Fowlkes, the next challenges are going to be working with all the stakeholders on timing of the test and to reach out to the public so they understand it’s a test and not a real emergency.