As we reported last month, the federal government has decided to conduct the first-ever national test of the Emergency Alert System. On June 9, 2011, FEMA and the FCC announced that the nationwide test is scheduled to occur on November 9, 2011, at 2pm Eastern Standard Time.
In an effort to answer questions about the test, the FCC has launched a helpful “Emergency Alert System Nationwide Test” information page which can be found here. The page includes a countdown clock (117 days and counting!) and provides the who, what, when, where and why regarding the first national test.
Last month we also reported that the FCC has implemented a rulemaking proposing sweeping changes to the Part 11 EAS Rules in order to codify the obligation that EAS Participants begin formatting EAS messages using the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). The FCC’s Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking raises a host of questions, the most immediate of which is whether the current September 30, 2011 deadline for implementing CAP should be extended. For the vast majority of EAS Participants trying to meet that deadline, the answer to the FCC’s question appears to be a resounding “yes”. Among other issues, installing new EAS equipment just a month before the first national EAS test is likely to result in a national test beset by the “teething pains” of getting the new equipment functioning smoothly.
If you wish to respond to this or any of the other CAP-related questions being considered by the FCC, remember that comments are due at the FCC next Wednesday, July 20.