National Alert System Tested: What’s Next?

Maybe Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate was hoping for something better than Lady Gaga when he voiced his concerns with the recent Emergency Alert System (EAS) test that was held on Wednesday, November 9. Lady Gaga, which was played on some stations as the test was implemented, was just one of a few snafus suffered at some radio and television outlets nationwide.

Overall the test was deemed a success, with a few notable exceptions of dead air or signal distortion. Though data is still being analyzed from the actual test, EAS administrators said it is better to work out problems now rather than address them during an actual emergency.

The EAS was designed to use multipronged media outlets to notify viewers and listeners nationwide of governmental information in case of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. The nationwide test was planned cooperatively by FEMA, the National Oceanographic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), in conjunction with officials on the state and local level and nongovernmental organizations, to test the resiliency and effectiveness of the nation’s EAS. One of the primary goals included looking for areas of improvement that could be applied to the implementation of the next-generation alert system, which is set to be deployed in June 2012. Participants have 45 days to report their results under FCC rules.

The assessment, the full results of which will take weeks to assemble, will allow FEMA and the FCC to go back and look at where problems occurred and give stations who did have problems the ability to fix those issues. That way, when a national emergency does occur, FEMA and the U.S.-wide network of public and private radio and television networks will be ready.

For more information about the recent EAS test and future tests, visit: