Thread: IPAWS National Test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System

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    IPAWS National Test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System 
    Professor Emeritus TheLoveBandit's Avatar
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    Getting to the point ...
    IPAWS National Test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS)

    The National EAS and WEA test will be held on the backup date of October 3, 2018, beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) on the backup date of October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence. The WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 p.m. EDT, and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.

    The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA. This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test. Previous EAS national tests were conducted in November 2011, September 2016, and September 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials in recognition of FEMA?s National Preparedness Month.

    Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. Some cell phones will not receive the test message, and cell phones should only receive the message once. The WEA test message will have a header that reads "Presidential Alert" and text that says:

    ?THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.?

    The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.

    The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency. The test is made available to EAS participants (i.e., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. The EAS message will include a reference to the WEA test:

    ?THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.?

    The test was originally planned for September 20, 2018 but has been postponed until October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence.
    So, this appears to have been in the works since 2012. And, it appears to build upon the Amber Alert system that launched in 1997(?) where notifications are sent out to cell phones near where a child is reported as abducted, with a description of the child and the suspect vehicle. The Amber Alerts are an opt-in for US cell phone users (part of the iOS settings for my phone).

    My understanding is that for Amber Alerts, a LOT of discussion went into play to govern who can issue the warnings, how, when, and what to put in them. Mostly to avoid accidental (or intentional) misuse of the system. I believe the same, or actually, a lot more, debate went into how to utilize this system such that there are keycodes and multiple persons to verify the validity of the situation as well as to determine what gets broadcast. Certainly we don't want false alarms, or incorrect messaging.

    The IPAWS uses that, and extends the aging alert system that broadcast over tv and radio to notify people of weather or natural disasters. I think this is a great thing long overdue. I'm interested in other's thoughts on the system.

    I'm also curious what, if any, similar public notification systems exist for Australia (similar isolated country with one gov't over all) and for our European friends (many countries and gov'ts as well as regulatory systems and cell carriers).
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    I would have never guessed this is anything new. I live in Florida where severe weather, geezers with only half their marbles driving off (silver alert) and kids getting snatched are a daily occurrence. I hate to say it, but all the alerts get annoying (although if I had a kid, and the kid got snatched I'd be grateful) and the only reason I haven't disabled that feature is that if one of the summer afternoon seabreeze thunderstorms, or winter cold front thunderstorms happens to spawn a tornado headed in my direction, I'd like to know.
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    ^Same here. I get so many weather notifications it's not worth it. Already been raining here for almost two months straight. I just stay home when hurricanes hit. I call them Hurrications cause it's an excuse to miss work and do ass loads of drugs.
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