FCC updates how some emergency alerts will look on phones

FCC updates how some emergency alerts will look on phones

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that it has merged two types of text message warnings into one: “Presidential Notifications” and “Federal Emergency Management Agency” alerts (FEMA).

Both will now be part of a new category called “National Alerts,” which will be available on all devices that get Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).

The alerts’ objective is to warn the public about natural catastrophes and other emergency circumstances, and they’re becoming increasingly important, according to the FCC, “given the calamities and disasters Americans have encountered in recent years” (pdf).

The false warning in Hawaii in 2018, in which citizens were told of an impending ballistic missile danger that never materialized, underlined the need for upgrades to the government’s alert system, according to the agency.

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The new standards give states a checklist of information for their own Emergency Alert Systems and encourage them to organize committees to aid with alert administration at the state level.

Government agencies can now report bogus emergency alerts to the FCC’s 24/7 Operations Center under the new guidelines, which also provide instructions on how alert originators can repeat an alert transmission.

FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission will conduct a nationwide test of wireless alerts and the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which transmits signals to radios and televisions, later this summer. Both tests will take place on August 11th at 2:20 p.m. ET.

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