Emergency alert test going out to mobile phones nationwide Wednesday

James Marshall
October 3, 2018

Central Time on Wednesday as a "Presidential Alert".

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will conduct a test of the national alert system that allows "presidential alerts" to hit the majority of cellphones.

UCLA communications professor Tim Groeling agreed, writing via email, "broadcast-based emergency alert systems. have remained professional and impartial over decades".

When will I get the alert?

The test will sound similar to Amber Alerts many cell phone users receive. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency.

The alert, in real situations, would only be used in emergencies that affect the entire USA, the Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services said.

A separate alert on TV and radios will be issued at 2:20 PM (2320 hours, Pakistan time).

Aside from a few pertinent details about the alert (and the legalities supporting its existence), FEMA also released a mock-up image of what the message will look like on a smartphone.

Asked about the possibility that the government's messages could pour into people's phones like Trump's tweets, FEMA official Antwane Johnson said that wouldn't happen.

FEMA will also run a test of its Emergency Alert System for radio and television broadcasters the same day, beginning two minutes after the WEA test.

Afterward, the agency will perform an EAS test at 2:20 p.m., which will last for about a minute.

Unlike other types of emergency alerts, the presidential alert is created to let the White House inform the entire country nearly instantly of grave public emergencies, such as a terrorist attack or an invasion, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "No action is needed", officials said.

Who's in charge of sending out this alert?

For more information on the test, visit the FEMA website here. You won't get it if you aren't in range of a cell tower, for instance, or if your phone is switched off. Wireless phones should receive the message only once. "No action is required".

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