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The Emergency Broadcast System has been testing the alert program with increasing frequency in recent days. While it’s only being reported locally in various places; the larger scope of the tests has not gone unnoticed. Various Internet forums, especially conspiracy-oriented forums, have been posting threads documenting these tests.
“to allow for national EAS testing and data collection from such tests.” This could explain the recent, and sudden, widespread testing of the system.
The FCC has changed its Emergency Alert System rules to allow for national EAS testing and data collection from such tests.
The goal of the national test is to determine whether EAS functions as intended to deliver a national presidential alert.
The changes, adopted Feb. 2, have now been published in the Federal Register and are in effect. The commission’s Part 11 rules now say all EAS participating stations must take part in national tests of the EAS system. The first national EAS test must use the Emergency Alert Notification, the live event code for nationwide presidential alerts. Whenever the national test occurs, it replaces the monthly and weekly EAS tests for that particular month and week.
The new rules require the FCC to give stations at least two months’ notice before a national test; and stations must submit test-related diagnostic information — including whether they received the alert, if they re-transmitted it and the make and model of their EAS encoder/decoder — to the FCC within 45 days. The data won’t be released to the public but can be shared with other federal agencies and state governmental emergency management agencies.
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 the 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.
Fowlkes said, "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."