FCC/FEMA: EAS Test Served its Purpose

November 10, 2011


Nov 10, 2011 - The national EAS test was held Nov. 9, and broadcasters and EAS equipment manufacturers have been discussing the results since. Shortly after the test, the FCC and FEMA issued a joint statement:

"The Nationwide EAS Test served the purpose for which it was intended: to identify gaps and generate a comprehensive set of data to help strengthen our ability to communicate during real emergencies. Based on preliminary data, media outlets in large portions of the country successfully received the test message, but [it] wasn't received by some viewers or listeners. We are currently in the process of collecting and analyzing data, and will reach a conclusion when that process is complete."

As Radio commented earlier, while some broadcasters are calling the test an utter failure, a failed test still provides useful results. This EAS test may have failed to work flawlessly, but it worked to some degree in some areas, and didn't work at all in others.

A FEMA blog post by Damon Penn, assistant administrator of the FEMA National Continuity Programs, says the agencies are currently collecting data about the initial results, and they await the full reporting from all stations to know the complete results of the test.

The blog goes on to say, "This initial test was the first time we have gotten a sense of the reach and scope of this technology. It was our opportunity to get a sense of what worked, what didn't and additional improvements that need to be made to the system as we move forward. It's only through comprehensively testing, analyzing, and improving these technologies that we can ensure the most effective and reliable emergency alert and warning systems available at a moment's notice in a time of real national emergency.

"This nationwide test served the purpose for which it was intended: to identify gaps and generate a comprehensive set of data to help strengthen our ability to communicate during real emergencies. Based on preliminary data, media outlets in large portions of the country successfully received the test message, but it wasn't received by some viewers or listeners."

Next steps

FEMA and the FCC will gather test result data from the test participants and stakeholders. (Stations have 45 days to submit their test results to the FCC.) FEMA is also interested in hearing from stakeholders who want to share feedback about how the test worked and ways the agency can continue to improve it. Comments can be submitted to ipaws@dhs.gov. FEMA says it will continue to test other technologies and communications tools to be added to the system.

And while not confirmed, some insider say FEMA and the FCC have ideas to hold another national test in mid 2012.



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