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Blog Posts by James A. Barnett, Jr.

First Nationwide Test of the EAS

by James A. Barnett, Jr., Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
June 9, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:54:height=106,width=70]]Early warnings save lives. This was demonstrated recently and dramatically during the major earthquake and tsunami that devastated Eastern Japan. Except for Japan’s early warning systems, loss of life would have been much higher. Here at the FCC, we have a series of initiatives to ensure that similarly effective alerting systems are available here in the U.S.

A new era in alerting will commence on November 9, at 2:00 p.m. EST, when the FCC and our federal partners, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Weather Service, will conduct the first ever top-to-bottom, nation-wide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). This test is vital to ensuring that the EAS, the primary alerting system available to the American public, works as designed.

In existence since 1994, the EAS is a media communications-based alerting system designed to transmit emergency alerts and warnings to the American public at the national, state and local levels. Broadcasters, satellite radio and television service providers, cable television and wireline video providers, are all required to participate. Each year, they transmit thousands of alerts and warnings to the American public regarding weather threats, child abductions, and many other types of emergencies. EAS participants provide a significant and largely unsung service to the nation by providing vital information in crises, and the system is designed to work when nothing else does.

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