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EAS Community Reacts to National Test Report

Standardized equipment features, better communication between stakeholders suggested

Now that the FCC’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau has issued its national EAS test report and identified the steps it believes are necessary to improve the alerting system before the next nationwide test, at least some EAS observers appear encouraged by the recommendations.

On the FCC’s list of improvements is a call for rulemaking on proposed changes to EAS equipment rules to ensure that alerting equipment operates in a consistent manner.

“We now have some encouragement from the FCC that they will conduct conformance testing beyond the extensive IPAWS OPEN testing that FEMA conducted to make sure all authorized EAS devices will play nice together when it counts,” said Richard Rudman, core member of the Broadcast Warning Working Group.

Rudman would like to see standardized feature sets and behaviors for all authorized alerting equipment, but “since enhanced EAS equipment has already been put into service,” it may not be possible.

Gary Timm, broadcast chair of the Wisconsin State EAS Committee, said the greatest value of the report is the PSHSB urging the commission to move forward with new rules to improve EAS. “This expected resolution of the many items deferred for ruling in the EAS Fifth Report and Order will allow states to finally complete their revised EAS plans, and the recommended rules to improve EAN performance will pave the way for an even more successful next nationwide EAS test,” Timm said.

Not all reaction from EAS stakeholders to the agency’s report was congratulatory in tone.

“The FCC was under a lot of pressure to say something,” said Clay Freinwald, chair of the Washington State SECC. He thought the FCC “was short on what went wrong” with the November 2011 test. “There also needs to be better ongoing communication with all the stakeholders,” adds Freinwald.

Nevada EAS Chair Adrienne Abbott said the FCC report revealed nothing new, or “at least nothing that EAS state chairs hadn’t figured out. However, at least we now have the information officially from the FCC and FEMA and we can only wonder why it took them so long to put out the report,” Abbot said.