Manny Centeno. Photo by Jim Peck, Sept. 2011
Will broadcasters and regulators learn what they need to about EAS even with a shorter test?
That’s a big question engineers are asking after the length was shortened from some 2-1/2 minutes to 30 seconds. A FEMA spokeswoman told Radio World the decision was made “to reduce any potential disruptions to the American people, while still maintaining our ability to test the system’s nationwide capabilities.” Both FEMA and the FCC believe the shortened test will give them the information they need about the system.
FEMA IPAWS Program Manager Manny Centeno acknowledges engineers’ concerns with the test, and mentions his own, such as audio quality, possible repeated messages and natural delays in the system.
“One of my concerns is folks have become discouraged. I want to make sure they are not discouraged and are motivated regardless of the outcome of the test.”
This test is the first of many, he believes. Tomorrow’s test is a “historic milestone” from which both broadcasters and the government will learn, he said; however, “It’s not one test and it’s over.”
“We have to start somewhere,” said Centeno, though he noted that the results likely “won’t be pretty” in some areas that planners have identified.
He credits broadcasters with suggesting mitigation strategies and supporting the bulk of outreach efforts to the public.
FEMA will originate the Wednesday test message and send it to some 64 Primary Entry Point stations. The agency and PEP stations are in touch regularly via teleconference and will be tomorrow, before, during and after the test.
For other stations, Centeno has some last-minute advice regarding the EAS technical best practices: “Check your equipment tonight to make sure you can receive your EAS sources.”