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Communications Government United States

FEMA, FCC Hope To Forestall Panic Over National Emergency Alert 210

Ars Technica has a piece on the "first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS)," slated for this Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST. An excerpt: "This national system will look and sound much like the current (and local) emergency warnings often seen on TV or heard on radio, but the scope is larger and it can be put under the direct control of the President. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Weather Service (NWS) will all coordinate the test, but it's FEMA that actually transmits the alert code. Concerned that such a test might alarm people, the agencies are going to extraordinary lengths to provide a heads-up. I first heard about the test in an e-mail newsletter from my city government, which told residents last week, 'Do not be alarmed when an emergency message will take over the airways... this is only a test.' The test will display a warning message on TV screens, though as my city helpfully noted, 'Due to some technical limitations, a visual message indicating that "this is a test" may not pop up on every TV channel, especially where people use cable to receive their television stations.'"
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FEMA, FCC Hope To Forestall Panic Over National Emergency Alert

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  • Re:Almost care (Score:5, Informative)

    by grumling ( 94709 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:27AM (#37972198) Homepage

    Weather radio stations are not participating.

  • Re:the real coup (Score:5, Informative)

    by grumling ( 94709 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:39AM (#37972260) Homepage

    That pesky Communications act of 1934 (amended every congressional session since) specifically states that the airwaves belong to the people, and the people have designated the FCC as the trustee of the airwaves. By getting a license you grant consent.

    The Cable act of 1992 brings cable TV under the umbrella of the FCC as well. Satellite TV, being delivered over the air, falls under the 1934 rule.

  • Re:It's a Hoax (Score:4, Informative)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @10:48AM (#37972868) Journal

    It worked for me during the 1998 outbreak of tornados in Tennessee []. I was in Nashville at the time and heading south by car when it kicked in. It was off and on all day and helped me navigate between storms and keep safe.

    Quite useful that time.

  • Re:It's a Hoax (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @11:22AM (#37973172)

    Your point is fair enough, but I can't help but notice you fully avoided the question. What would you have said and to what effect? "Beware Arabs?"

    The purpose of the system isn't to inform, it is to alert to action. "Tornado coming, duck!" is an actionable alert. The more probable intent at the time of invention, "incoming bombers" or "incoming missile, get to a shelter" is an actionable alert. You would have told people on 9/11 what? At any point in the situation?

    Once we knew what was going on, planes were grounded. Fighters were in the air. For all the terrible injury and death that occurred I can't think of hearing about a single case that was because the police hadn't properly cordoned off the area around the towers, or any other such issue where action might actually be feasible. The only things we might have said we didn't know to say.

    There may well be problems with the Emergency Alert System, but I would hardly call 9/11 an example of a failure.

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