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America’s Alert & Warning System
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is an integral part of the public alert and warning system in the U.S. It provides the President and other authorized federal, state and local officials the capability to transmit an emergency message to the public during disasters or crises. The national EAS, regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is administered by the Department of Homeland Security through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The President and authorized federal government officials originate national alerts and warnings. During non-federal emergencies, the EAS gives state and local government and emergency management officials the capability to alert and warn their local populations.
Testing the National Activation of the Emergency Alert System
FEMA is currently expanding the capabilities of the EAS and other alert and warning systems throughout the United States in compliance with Executive Order 13407. As part of that process, FEMA is installing new alert and warning technologies that will allow for the rapid dissemination of emergency messages to the public and State emergency management personnel. To ensure system reliability and identify potential weak points FEMA must test the new alert and warning technologies.
While the EAS protocols do include several test codes for mandated weekly and monthly testing of the EAS, the testing that needed to be conducted for the new national delivery path was unique. There is no test code to simulate a national activation of the EAS. The primary function of the national level activation is a presidential message, the EAN. Because the EAN is a unique code, the only way to properly gauge how the receivers and equipment will react and process the alert using the new delivery path was to send an actual EAN code to specified receivers in a controlled test.