On Thursday (July 12), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took the latest in a series of actions designed, it says, to bolster the reliability of the nation’s emergency alerting systems and support greater community preparedness.
In a Report and Order adopted, the commission set forth procedures for authorized state and local officials to conduct “live code” tests of the Emergency Alert System, which use the same alert codes and processes as would be used in actual emergencies. These tests can increase the proficiency of local alerting officials while educating the public about how to respond to actual alerts.
The procedures adopted by the commission require appropriate coordination, planning, and disclaimers to accompany any such test.
To further enhance public awareness, today’s action will also permit authorized public service announcements (PSAs) about the Emergency Alert System to include the system’s Attention Signal (the attention-grabbing two-tone audio signal that precedes the alert message) and simulated Header Code tones (the three audible tones that precede the Attention Signal) so long as an appropriate disclaimer is included in the PSA.
The action also requires Emergency Alert System equipment to be configured to help prevent false alerts and requires an Emergency Alert System participant, such as a broadcaster or cable system, to inform the FCC if it discovers that it has transmitted a false alert.
In addition, in an accompanying Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the commission seeks comment on other specific measures to help stakeholders prevent and correct false alerts.
The commission also seeks comment on the performance of Wireless Emergency Alerts, including how such performance should be measured and how the FCC should address inconsistent delivery of these messages.