At the Federal Communications Commission's June 9, 2011 Agenda meeting, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett, joined by representatives from FEMA and the National Weather Service, announced that the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) would take place at 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time) on November 9, 2011. The purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS as a public alert mechanism. EAS Participants currently participate in state-level monthly tests and local-level weekly tests, but no top-down review of the entire system has ever been undertaken. The Commission, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will use the results of this nationwide test to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS as a public alert mechanism, and will work together with EAS stakeholders to make improvements to the system as appropriate.Outreach Materials
Video Public Service Announcements (PSAs)English - Open Captioned: 15-Second .MOV | 30-Second .MOV English - Closed Captioned: 15-Second .MOV | 30-Second .MOV Spanish - Open Captioned: 15-Second .MOV | 30-Second .MOV Spanish - Closed Captioned: 15-Second .MOV | 30-Second .MOV
Radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs)English: 15-Second MP3 | 30-Second MP3 Spanish: 15-Second MP3 | 30-Second MP3
PSHSB Chief Jamie Barnett's Comments on the Need for a Nationwide Test: Blog PostFEMA Resources
Nationwide EAS Test Information and FAQs: Link
EAS Discussion Forum: LinkHelpful Information Concerning the EAS & the First Nationwide EAS Test
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a media communications-based alerting system that is designed to transmit emergency alerts and warnings to the American public at the national, state and local levels. The EAS has been in existence since 1994, and its precursor, the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), began in 1963. Television and radio broadcasters, satellite radio and satellite television providers, as well as cable television and wireline video providers all participate in the system (collectively, EAS Participants). EAS Participants broadcast thousands of alerts and warnings to the American public each year regarding weather threats, child abductions, and many other types of emergencies. As such, the EAS will continue to function as one key component of a national alert and warning system that will provide alerts over multiple communications platforms, including mobile communications devices.
How does the EAS work?
An EAS alert is based on an audio protocol defined in the FCC’s rules. In the EAS, an alert originator at the local, state, or national level inputs an EAS alert into the system using specific encoding equipment. Specially designated stations then broadcast this alert to the public in their listening areas. Other EAS Participants (television and other radio broadcasters, cable and wireline video service providers, radio and television satellite service providers, and others) monitor the specially-designated stations for EAS alerts. When these other EAS Participants receive the EAS alert, they, in turn, broadcast it to the public in their listening areas. This group of EAS Participants may be monitored by other EAS Participants too far away to receive the EAS message from the first group of transmitting broadcasters. This next group of EAS Participants, in turn, broadcasts the alert to the public in the vicinity of their stations, as well as to any other stations that may be monitoring them.
When is the EAS used? When would a national EAS alert be sent?
The EAS alerting architecture is frequently used by state and local emergency managers to send alerts to the public about emergencies and weather events. While the requirements for carrying a national-level EAS alert differ in some respects from state and local alerts, the national EAS test will test the underlying architecture that also supports state and local alerting. Ensuring that the EAS architecture functions properly will benefit emergency alerting at all levels of government.
The EAS provides the ability to send messages regionally or nationally, though it has never been activated at these levels. But a major disaster like an earthquake or tsunami could necessitate the use of the EAS on a regional or national basis to send life-saving information to the public. We cannot anticipate which communications infrastructure will withstand a particular disaster, but the EAS is one of the tools we have to send alerts, warnings, and information to the American people. The national EAS test will help us improve its capabilities should it ever be needed at the regional or national level in an actual emergency.