FEMA IPAWS Targets 2015 for Next National EAS Test
by Leslie Stimson
FEMA’s Integrated Public
Alert & Warning System Program Management Office is targeting late 2015 for
another national EAS test, Radio World has learned. In order to accomplish that
goal, certain things must happen first, according to sources.
Phase I of the march to another national test has occurred; that was bench
testing of the transmission, encoding and decoding of a Common Alerting
Protocol-EAS message with a National Protocol Test header at IPAWS’s Lab along
the Patuxent River in southern Md.
Phase II involves
sending a CAP-EAS message with an NPT event code through IPAWS OPEN in a closed
test in West Virginia. FEMA IPAWS conducted such tests in Alaska before the
previous national test in 2011.
The NPT event code is
key as part of the commission’s open rulemaking on EAS. An advisory committee
comprised of alerting experts recommended the FCC adopt event code “NPT” for
National Periodic Test, to enable automatic generation of text for national
level tests. This recommendation is included in the NPRM the agency is taking
comments until Aug. 14 (04-296.)
FEMA IPAWS personnel
met recently with several officials from West Virginia emergency management
officials to discuss a plan to direct an IPAWS test to that state. FEMA
proposed to send a CAP-EAS message with an NPT event code through IPAWS OPEN in
what would be Phase II of the IPAWS national test, according to sources. The
test is tentatively slated for Sept. 17.
One of the
officials in the meeting was West Virginia Broadcast Association Executive
Director Michele Crist. She tells RW engineers at some 140 radio and TV
stations combined will take part; FEMA, with the support of the WVBA, is asking
West Virginia stations to manually set their EAS devices to immediately
broadcast an NPT alert sent statewide. FEMA has contacted the EAS device
manufacturers to develop device unique configuration instructions and plans to
pass these instructions onto station representatives.
otherwise, the test won’t be that much different from a regular test. A
briefing for station engineers with West Virginia emergency management
officials and FEMA is set for Aug. 11 in Charleston to discuss the test plan,
Stations would report back to the WVBA after
the test, she said in an interview, to note if they were able to receive and
re-transmit the alert along the daisy chain.
said FEMA’s NPT would be structured similar to a normal required monthly test
with an attention signal and a brief announcement beginning with, “This is a
test. This station is conducting a test…” To the public, it will sound like a
normal EAS test.
The cellular and cable industries are involved
in the effort as well; the goal is said to be developing a regularly scheduled
national testing routine as recommended by a national test working group of the
FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council, an
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