It’s official; the next nationwide test of EAS will take place Sept. 28 at 2:20 p.m. EDT.
And remember, your station needs to register soon with the new FCC test reporting system and get hip to the forms you’ll need to file after this test.
The industry knew all this was coming, as we’ve been reporting; but now the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has officially published notice to all Emergency Alert System participants, including broadcasters, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will conduct the national test. In case anything arises to delay it (such as a real emergency, during which a test could cause confusion), a secondary test date is set for Oct. 5.
“EAS Participants must be prepared to participate in a test on both the primary and alternate test dates,” according to the FCC announcement. “All EAS Participants are required to participate in this nationwide test.”
The test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of EAS, with an emphasis on IPAWS, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System gateway through which common alerting protocol-based EAS alerts are disseminated. A first nationwide test was held in 2011 and raised several issues that planners also hope to review and analyze this time around.
“The test message will clearly state that the alert is only a test of the EAS,” the FCC bureau stated. “FEMA’s alert will be transmitted in English and Spanish and include both audio and the text of the test message, which can be used to populate an accessible video crawl. These improvements will help ensure that all members of the public, including non-English speakers and individuals with disabilities, will receive emergency information.”
Stations and other EAS participants must register with the new EAS Test Reporting System, or ETRS, as we’ve reported. You must file ETRS Form One by Aug. 26; then you’ll need to file “day of test” information via Form Two before midnight of the test date; then you need to file the more detailed Form Three by Nov. 14.
The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau encouraged EAS participants to review their state EAS plan, check that a copy of the EAS Operating Handbook is located at the appropriate locations, review the handbook, make sure equipment is in compliance with current rules (including being capable of receiving and processing the national periodic test code and “six zeroes” national location code); and upgrading software to the most recent version. [Related: 000000 EAS Deadline Approaches]
It also encouraged participants to update Form One to reflect any changes to identifying information and, if their gear doesn’t automatically synchronize to an Internet time source, manually synch EAS equipment clocks to official time provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.