Category Archives: EAS and Amber Alerts

Urgent: Sage ENDEC Update Available

Sage Alerting Systems has announced the availability of an important firmware update for its Sage 3644 (blue) EAS box.

Users with the 3644 must install this update to permit the ENDEC to continue to receive EAS CAP alerts from FEMA.   A FEMA signing certificate will expire at 11:45 a.m. on June 24, 2018; if this update is not installed, you will not receive CAP messages from the IPAWS system after that date.

This release also updates the SSL certificate roots that your ENDEC must have in order to download alert audio files from state or county alert originators.

For more information, visit http://sagealertingsystems.com/support-firmware-new.htm.

Updates from other manufacturers: 

Monroe EAS Device users who are being contacted directly.

User notices are being sent out, directing to the following links:
http://www.digitalalertsystems.com/resources_fsb.html and http://monroe-electronics.com/EAS_pages/eas_fsb.html.

Trilithic updates can be found here:

https://eas.trilithic.com/Documents/Firmware/index.html

Gorman-Redlich updates can be found here:

http://www.gorman-redlich.com/downloads/

SECC Meets in Lansing

On May 23, members of the State Emergency Communications Committee met in Lansing to discuss EAS changes and issues in Michigan.

SECC members were updated on the progress of the Michigan State Police Emergency Alert System LPI project which began late last year.  The project is focusing on upgrading the state’s hardware for emergency reporting, along with policies and training.  The good news for broadcasters is that the changes will improve the speed relaying EAS messages to air, as well as incorporating mass notification systems for incidents that may not require a full EAS alert.

In addition, both broadcasters and the public will have access to an online portal that will allow for the dissemination of follow-up information once an alert has been issued.  Presently there is no formal avenue for such information.

It is hoped that the goal for a vendor to provide the neccessary hardware will be selected by the end of 2018 with the entire project shooting for a completion date of December 31, 2019.

Gary Blievernicht, state SECC Chairman and MAB’s Dan Kelley have both been involved in representing broadcasters with the project.

Other items discussed at the May 23 meeting included an update on the 800mHz radios that were provided by broadcasters.  MSP is hiring a project manager to assist broadcasters with radio installation and updating .  Also on the agenda was discussion of local primary reception problems in the Cadillac and Port Huron areas, plus discussion of the local primary station situation in a region, where both the LP-1 and LP-2 are at a shared location, rather than separate locations as desired.

The FCC Publishes Compliance Guide for BLUE Alerts

The FCC published a Small Entity Compliance Guide for BLUE alerts available here. “The use of the BLU event code is voluntary and EAS and EAS Participants may update their software to add the BLU event code on a voluntary basis. Such software updates may be bundled with other routine software updates to minimize burden and expense,” according to the guide.

Statewide Tornado Drill Successful

The MAB would like to thank broadcasters for participating in this year’s statewide tornado drill on April 11.  This was performed as part of Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week and coordinated by the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, the MAB, the National Weather Service and local emergency managers throughout the state.

While participation by government agencies, municipalities, schools and workplaces is still being gathered, broadcaster participation was nearly 100%, simply because the on-air “drill” was a RMT (Required Monthly Test), a routine event for most broadcasters.  Additional language was put in the test to acknowledge Severe Weather Awareness Week.

The only problems reported thus far to the MAB were some issues at individual stations, either with audio level issues or configuration issues of local EAS boxes.  The attention with this test was an excellent opportunity for stations to check their equipment for proper operation.

If there were problems in your area that you’d like the MAB to know about, please email Dan Kelley: dkelley@michmab.com.

FEMA Releases 2017 IPAWS/EAS National Test Report

FEMA has released the results of the September 27, 2017 National EAS Test.  The agency reports that overall results were similar to 2016 with improvements in most areas.

The largest issues reported to FEMA via ETRS were:

1) 27.1% of errors reported were due to General EAS device configuration errors.  268 EAS participants nationwide reported this.

2) 21.2% of errors were due to EAS equipment failure or EAS equipment out for repair.  210 EAS partipants reported this.

3) 7.5% of errors were due to a timing issue within EAS device, typically due to NNTP server configuration.  74 EAS participants reported this.

The complete list of errors are in the report.

The agency noted that while the apparent overall quality of the data collected in ETRS has improved FEMA continues to have concerns regarding the quality of EAS Participant responses recorded in ETRS. For example seven EAS Participants indicated that they did not receive the NPT message, but did successfully relay the message they claimed not to receive.

See the complete report here.

Statewide Tornado Drill Next Week

Gov. Rick Snyder has declared the week of April 8 through 14 Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week.  Broadcasters and Emergency Management partners statewide are encouraging Michiganders to conduct a statewide tornado drill at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 11.

Broadcaster participation will take place with an EAS Required Monthly Test at 1 p.m. on April 11.  As with all RMTs, the test will remind the public that in the event of a tornado, severe weather or other emergency, official information would have followed the EAS tones.

Broadcasters are also encouraged to promote the test and their role in relaying important information to the public when severe weather strikes.  This can be done on-air and through websites and social media.

On a voluntary basis, Emergency Managers may conduct a test of warning sirens and other drills.  Broadcasters are encouraged to contact their local emergency management personnel to get specific details on activities happening in their communities.

Here are links to important information for broadcasters for download:

Tornado Safety Packet
Radio PSA #1 (Outdoor Warning)
Radio PSA #2 (Tornado Drill)

The Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness has also published their annual Severe Weather Awareness Toolkit. The packet can be downloaded at https://www.mcswa.com.

Thank you for your commitment to being preparedness leaders in the state and in your communities.

The Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division and the Statewide Tornado Drill Committee.

Severe Weather Awareness Week Information (Including EAS RMT ‘Tornado Alert’)

Gov. Rick Snyder has declared the week of April 8 through 14 Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week.  Broadcasters and Emergency Management partners statewide are encouraging Michiganders to conduct a statewide tornado drill at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 11.

Broadcaster participation will take place with an EAS Required Monthly Test at the 1 p.m. time on April 11.  As with all RMTs, the test will remind the public that in the event of a tornado, severe weather or other emergency, official information would have followed the EAS tones.

Broadcasters are also encouraged to promote the test and their role in relaying important information to the public when severe weather strikes.  This can be done on-air and through websites and social media.

On a voluntary basis, Emergency Managers may conduct a test of warning sirens and other drills.  Broadcasters are encouraged to contact their local emergency management personnel to get specific details on activities happening in their communities.

Here are links to important information for broadcasters for download:

Tornado Safety Packet
Radio PSA #1 (Outdoor Warning)
Radio PSA #2 (Tornado Drill)

The Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness has also published their annual Severe Weather Awareness Toolkit. The packet can be downloaded at https://www.mcswa.com.

Thank you for your commitment to being preparedness leaders in the state and in your communities.

The Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division and the Statewide Tornado Drill Committee.

Reminder: Special Statewide Severe Weather RMT Scheduled for April 11

The 2018 Severe Weather/Tornado Drill EAS Alert is scheduled for  April 11, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.

However this year, Michigan will not be running a “TOR” test as in the past.  After two years of difficulties the with test, the State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC) elected to run the EAS Required Monthly Test (RMT) in place of a live TOR test, with some additional language mentioning how EAS can alert in the event of severe weather.

This should be good news for most broadcasters.  An RMT makes all broadcaster participation possible, since they are required to run the monthly test anyway; and it makes it easier as they do not have to air it “live”, interrupting their programming and/or commercials. They can delay it and air at the next natural break, if they choose.  It is just a routine event.

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB), on behalf of all Michigan Broadcasters, received a waiver from the FCC to run the April RMT in the daytime hours, a month where it would normally air at night/overnight.

The test is a joint effort of the MAB, Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division as well as the National Weather Service.

‘ALERT’ Act Gives the Feds Sole Responsibility to Notify the Public of a Missile Threat

Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have introduced the “Authenticating Local Emergencies and Real Threats (ALERT) Act.” They say this bill would improve the emergency alert system and give the federal government the sole responsibility of alerting the public of a missile threat, prohibiting state and local governments from doing so.

The ALERT Act also mandates the following:

  1. Requires FEMA to establish a process to notify state authorities when a missile alert is issued so they can activate their own protective action plans to ensure public safety;
  2. Requires the IPAWS subcommittee of the FEMA National Advisory Council to make recommendations on the best practices that state and local governments should follow to maintain the integrity of IPAWS.
  3. Requires FEMA to establish minimum requirements for state and local governments to participate in IPAWS within 120 days of receiving the subcommittee’s recommendations.
  4. Requires FEMA to establish a process to test the incident management and warning tool that a state or local government adopts to originate and send alerts to the public in the FEMA IPAWS Lab
  5. Requires FEMA to review its Emergency Operations, National Watch and Regional Watch Centers to assess their ability to track state and local alerts issued under IPAWS and determine which ones they should be notified about when states send them out.

2018 Tornado Drill Scheduled

The 2018 Severe Weather/Tornado Drill EAS Alert is scheduled for  April 11, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.

However this year, Michigan will not be running a “TOR” test as in the past.  After two years of difficulties the test, the State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC) elected to run the EAS Required Monthly Test (RMT) in place of a live TOR test, with some additional language mentioning how EAS can alert in the event of severe weather.

This should be good news for most broadcasters.  An RMT makes all broadcaster participation possible, since they are required to run the monthly test anyway; and it makes it easier as they do not have to air it “live”, interrupting their programming and/or commercials. They can delay it and air at the next natural break, if they choose.  It is just a routine event.

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB), on behalf of all Michigan Broadcasters, received a waiver from the FCC to run the April RMT in the daytime hours, a month where it would normally air at night/overnight.

The test is a joint effort of the MAB, Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division as well as the National Weather Service.

More information to come, but please mark your calendars.