Homeland Security

FEMA delays nationwide alert test

cell tower Stock photo ID: 122758183 By Christian Delber 

With the real and present dangers posed by Hurricane Florence and its aftermath, federal emergency management officials decided to delay testing of the national emergency alert system and wireless emergency alert system until Oct. 3.

The test of the system, which allows the president to send out a text message to cell phones across the nation in the event of a national emergency, was slated for Thursday, Sept. 20.

The event, billed on social media as a text message from President Trump, generated mirth as well as misinformation about the nature of the testing.

The Federal Communications Commission and FEMA oversee warning systems that include the Emergency Alert System, used to disseminate critical information via TV and radio, and the Wireless Emergency Alert system, which triggers notices and messages via cell phones linked to U.S. telecommunications carriers. The WEA system is already in wide use, and transmits messages about weather emergencies, Amber alerts for missing children and other urgent information. Users do not have an opt-out option.

According to FEMA, the WEA test will inform recipients of a "Presidential Alert" and then indicate that the message is a test requiring no further action.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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