Category Archives: EAS and Amber Alerts

Statewide Tornado Drill Scheduled for April 19

Michigan Statewide Tornado DrillIn conjunction with Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, April 16-22, broadcasters and emergency management partners statewide are encouraging to participate in a statewide tornado drill at 1:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 19.

With the endorsement of the MAB Board of Directors, the National Weather Service will conduct the test with the Tornado Warning EAS Code.  The MAB received a waiver from the FCC to use the actual EAS Tornado Warning Code (“TOR”) for this statewide test.

As with last year’s test, participation by broadcasters is voluntary.

In 2016, some areas in the state received multiple EAS alerts from the NWS weather radio.  After reviewing the results of last year’s test, the weather service has corrected the issues regarding those multiple alerts.

In addition to the EAS activation, areas of the state may also be testing outdoor tornado sirens,  which may alarm some members of the public. Your assistance in informing the public before the test is requested.

The MAB will be distributing more details and information to broadcasters within the next few weeks.

FCC Calls Nationwide EAS Test Successful

eas-logo_300The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports that the nationwide EAS test, conducted in September 2016, was a success, though it revealed “shortfalls” in some state-level EAS plans and other areas that could be improved.

FCC public safety officials note that improvements made to EAS after the first nationwide test five years ago, plus the implementation of a new online reporting system, “appear to have significantly improved test performance over what was observed during the 2011 test.”

The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau identified several areas where the Commission could take steps to “potentially strengthen the EAS” and listed some examples, including:

Some EAS participants experienced poor quality audio and were not able to deliver the Spanish language alert because they received the test from an over-the-air broadcast source before their EAS equipment performed its regular check of the IPAWS internet feed, which typically occurs every 30 seconds. Requiring participants to check the internet-based IPAWS feed upon receiving a broadcast alert and transmit the corresponding CAP alert, if available, would ensure that the most timely and content-rich version of the alert is broadcast. This would be particularly important for time-sensitive alerts, such as earthquake early warnings, where seconds matter. The CAP alert would contain a clear digital audio file as well as any available text or audio files in languages other than English.

Some people with disabilities reported difficulty receiving or understanding alert text or audio. EAS tests can be made more accessible by applying the accessibility rules that already apply to live EAS alerts to EAS tests.

Some plans were difficult for EAS participants to locate, while others presented monitoring obligations and other information in a manner that EAS participants found difficult to implement. The FCC can take steps to further facilitate the centralization and standardization of plan information.

Some participants did not receive the alert because they did not properly configure or maintain their equipment. The FCC, in coordination with state emergency communications committees, state broadcast associations and other stakeholders, will use the test results to provide guidance to those EAS participants that experienced technical difficulties.The test included the first use of the FCC’s new online EAS Test Reporting System. The staff said it will continue to analyze the results in conjunction with FEMA and said it is continuing to accept late-filed test results.

Some 85% of test participants successfully retransmitted the test alert; 69% reported no complications in receiving or retransmitting. “Many EAS participants reported that the test alert that they received featured the high quality audio from the CAP-based alert that FEMA distributed via IPAWS.”

For the first time, 74 EAS participants retransmitted the IPAWS-generated Spanish language version of the alert. And reports from the commission’s Public Safety Support Center proved effective for collecting feedback and should continue to be used for EAS tests.

AMBER Alert Criteria Changing January 1; New Advisory for Endangered Missing Persons

amber_300Via Michigan State Police
Contact: Ms. Lori Dougovito, MSP Public Affairs, 517-284-3223

The Michigan State Police (MSP) is changing the criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert in Michigan, the emergency response system that disseminates information about a missing child.

Effective, January 1, 2017, AMBER Alerts will only be issued for cases of child abductions, involving victims under the age of 18, but all AMBER Alerts will receive a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA). A vehicle license plate number is no longer required for a WEA.

Previously, in addition to abducted children, AMBER Alerts were authorized for missing children with severe mental or physical disabilities who wandered away and were unable to care for themselves.

“Any time a child goes missing, it’s an urgent situation and we should all pay attention; however, in the case of child abductions the urgency is even greater,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP. “By tightening the standards for issuing an AMBER Alert we will ensure these alerts are utilized in only the most dire of circumstances to get credible, useful information out to the public in order to bring abducted children home safely.”

Missing child cases that don’t meet the revised AMBER Alert criteria will be eligible for a new notification called an Endangered Missing Advisory, for which there is no age restriction. The Endangered Missing Advisory is a notice sent to broadcast and print media in the geographic area of the incident, but unlike an AMBER Alert, this advisory does not utilize the Emergency Alert System to interrupt broadcasting and it will not be sent to mobile devices as a WEA.

Michigan’s AMBER Alert is a partnership among the MSP, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Michigan Sheriff’s Association and Michigan Department of Transportation.

AMBER Alerts have helped police safely recover 262 missing Michigan children. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/AmberAlert.

Reminder: National EAS Test Form Three Report Due November 14

eas-logo_300On September 28, broadcasters in Michigan and nationwide conducted the first national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in five years and the first-ever usage of the IPAWS infrastructure.

Reminder on the reporting requirements:  Stations were required to go online and file ETRS Form Two by midnight on September 28.

ETRS Form Three, which asks for more detailed information regarding the test, is due on or before November 14, 2016.

For information on how to navigate to the proper forms within ETRS, see the article in our last newsletter here.

National EAS Test Successful; Don’t Forget Reporting

eas-logo_300On September 28, broadcasters in Michigan and nationwide conducted the first national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in five years and the first-ever using the IPAWS infrastructure.  Initial feedback showed the test was generally successful.  The MAB received only two informal reports of a stations having difficulties and those were confined to the retransmission end of the test.  Nationally, some areas reported difficulties; most of which appeared to be confined to configuration of station equipment.  In a post-test conference call with nationwide SECC (State Emergency Communications Committee) chairs, FEMA (The Federal Emergency Management Agency) received accolades for the audio quality of the test.

Reminder on the reporting requirements:  Stations were required to go online and file ETRS Form Two by midnight on September 28.

ETRS Form Three, which asks for more detailed information regarding the test is due on or before November 14, 2016.

For information on how to navigate to the proper forms within ETRS, see the article in our last newsletter here.

National EAS Test Wednesday – Reporting Information Preview

A national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time this Wednesday, September 28, 2016.  A secondary test date is October 5, 2016, “if necessary.”

All EAS participants are required to participate in this nationwide test.  This test will use the National Periodic Test (NPT) code, the location code for “All of United States.” FIPS number: 000000; and will be issued via FEMA Open IPAWS.  The FCC encourages EAS Participants to take steps to prepare for the test. The public notice is available here.

IMPORTANT NATIONAL TEST REPORTING DEADLINES

1) EAS participants shall file the “day of test” information sought by ETRS Form Two before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016.  This is the same day as the national test.

Form Two will be available online immediately after the test concludes.

The following information was presented at the NAB Radio Show on September 21, 2016:

To get to ETRS Form Two, stations should go to the ETRS home page and login.  Once logged in, click on the records tab at the top of the page: 

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On the next screen, click on EAS Test Records:

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On the next screen, click on the EAS Test Record corresponding to the September 28 test:

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On the next screen,  click on Submit Form 2 at the top of the screen:

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Form Two just has two questions: 

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That’s it.  Repeat again for all facilities you have registered with ERTS.

2) ETRS Form Three must be filed on or before November 14, 2016.

Use the same procedure as above, but navigate to Form Three instead of Form Two.

Form Three has three pages asking for more detailed information.  Most importantly if you received the EAS message, from what source, and from which source you first received the EAS message:

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More information requested on the second page regarding the first message:

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Finally, on page three, some questions regarding quality and/or difficulties.

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Repeat as necessary for all facilities registered with ETRS.

The FCC is available to answer your questions regarding this reporting.  Contact Austin Randazzo at the FCC: (202) 418-1462 or via email: Austin.Randazzo@fcc.gov or ETRS@fcc.gov.

Visit: https://www.fcc.gov/ general/eas-test-reporting-system/

EAS National Test Next Week!

eas-logo_300The next national test of the Emergency Alert System is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016.  (A secondary test date is October 5, 2016, “if necessary”). EAS participants must be prepared to take part in a test on both the primary and alternate test dates. All EAS participants are required to participate in this nationwide test.  This test will use the National Periodic Test (NPT) code, the location code for “All of United States.” FIPS number: 000000; and will be issued via FEMA Open IPAWS.

The results of the nationwide EAS test will be captured and analyzed using the new EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS).  The FCC encourages EAS Participants to take steps to prepare for the test.   The public notice is available here.

Important National Test Reporting Deadlines

1) EAS participants shall file the “day of test” information sought by ETRS Form Two before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016.  This is the same day as the national test.

2) EAS participants shall file the detailed post-test data sought by ETRS Form Three on or before November 14, 2016.

The FCC’s ETRS page is here.  The Broadcasters Desktop Reference website has a resource for broadcasters “Meet the ETRS.”  (Visit that site here.)

All EAS participants were required to register with ETRS and complete the filing on ETRS Form One on or before August 26, 2016.

In addition, the FCC has released an updated EAS Handbook available for download to print locally here.  A copy of the Handbook must be located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations when an operator is required to be on duty and be immediately available to staff responsible for administering EAS tests.  Please note that the new EAS Handbook requires licensees to “fill-in” information on various pages throughout the handbook and that stations should review the Handbook before placing it in a normal duty position.

There is also a Microsoft Word version of the EAS Handbook available here that may aid some stations in customizing the handbook for their operations.

Are You Ready? EAS National Test September 28

eas-logo_300The next national test of the Emergency Alert System is  scheduled for 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016.  (A secondary test date is October 5, 2016, “if necessary”). EAS participants must be prepared to take part in a test on both the primary and alternate test dates. All EAS participants are required to participate in this nationwide test.  This test will use the National Periodic Test (NPT) code, the location code for “All of United States.” FIPS number: 000000; and will be issued via FEMA Open IPAWS.

The results of the nationwide EAS test will be captured and analyzed using the new EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS).  The FCC encourages EAS Participants to take steps to prepare for the test.   The public notice is available here.

Important National Test Reporting Deadlines

1) EAS participants shall file the “day of test” information sought by ETRS Form Two before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016.  This is the same day as the national test.

2) EAS participants shall file the detailed post-test data sought by ETRS Form Three on or before November 14, 2016.

The FCC’s ETRS page is here.  The Broadcasters Desktop Reference website has a resource for broadcasters “Meet the ETRS.”  Visit that site here.)

All EAS participants were required to register with ETRS and complete the filing on ETRS Form One on or before August 26, 2016.

In addition, the FCC has released an updated EAS Handbook available for download to print locally here.  A copy of the Handbook must be located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations when an operator is required to be on duty and be immediately available to staff responsible for administering EAS tests.  Please note that the new EAS Handbook requires licensees to “fill-in” information on various pages throughout the handbook and that stations should review the Handbook before placing it in a normal duty position.

There is also a Microsoft Word version of the EAS Handbook available here that may aid some stations in customizing the handbook for their operations.

EAS National Test Date: September 28, 2016

eas-logo_300The next national test of the Emergency Alert System is  scheduled for 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016. (A secondary test date is October 5, 2016, “if necessary”). EAS Participants must be prepared to take part in a test on both the primary and alternate test dates. All EAS Participants are required to participate in this nationwide test.  This test will use the National Periodic Test (NPT) code, the location code for “All of United States.” FIPS number: 000000; and will be issued via FEMA Open IPAWS.

The results of the nationwide EAS test will be captured and analyzed using the new EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS).  The FCC encourages EAS Participants to take steps to prepare for the test.   The public notice is available here.

Important National Test Reporting Deadlines

1) EAS Participants shall file the “day of test” information sought by ETRS Form Two before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016.  This is the same day as the national test.

2) EAS Participants shall file the detailed post-test data sought by ETRS Form Three on or before November 14, 2016.

The FCC’s ETRS page is here.  The Broadcasters Desktop Reference website has a resource for broadcasters “Meet the ETRS.”  Visit that site here.)

All EAS Participants were required to register with ETRS and complete the filing on ETRS Form One on or before August 26, 2016.

In addition, the FCC has released an updated EAS Handbook available for download to print locally here.  A copy of the Handbook must be located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations when an operator is required to be on duty and be immediately available to staff responsible for administering EAS tests.  Please note that the new EAS Handbook requires licensees to “fill-in” information on various pages throughout the handbook and that stations should review the Handbook before placing it in a normal duty position.

There is also a Microsoft Word version of the EAS Handbook available here that may aid some stations in customizing the handbook for their operations.

EAS Form One Deadline this Friday. New EAS Handbook Released.

eas-logo_300Broadcasters are reminded that this Friday (8/26) is the deadline for filling out “Form One” in the FCC EAS Test Reporting System (“ETRS”).  This new system will allow broadcasters to electronically report on the success of the next EAS National Test, scheduled for September 28, 2016.

The FCC Public Notice announcing the new filing requirement is available here. More information about the form and a link to the Registration Page for the form are available on the FCC’s website, here.

Please refer to this most recent article from the MAB regarding Form One and other upcoming EAS deadlines.

Broadcasters are encouraged to complete this form at their earliest convenience as time is short.  MAB Washington attorney David Oxenford says that while the FCC has given stations until September 26 to edit their initial filings, they must get something on file by this Friday. Time is short, and completing the form (especially if you have multiple stations) may take some effort.

In addition, the FCC has released an updated EAS Handbook available for download to print locally here.  A copy of the Handbook must be located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations when an operator is required to be on duty and be immediately available to staff responsible for administering EAS tests.  Please note that the new EAS Handbook requires licensees to “fill-in” information on various pages throughout the handbook and that stations should review the Handbook before placing it in a normal duty position.

There is also a Microsoft Word version of the EAS Handbook available here that may aid some stations in customizing the handbook for their operations.