The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released its Nationwide EAS Test Handbook, specifically directed to the upcoming first-ever Nationwide EAS Test that will occur on Nov. 9, 2011. The Handbook is to be posted at all EAS equipment locations and should be made available immediately to staff responsible for administering the Nationwide EAS Test. (EAS Participants should also have the standard EAS Handbook at their EAS equipment locations, but this Handbook will be used for the Nationwide Test). As noted in our prior advisory, the Nov. 9, 2011 test will be the first time that the Emergency Alert System (originally adopted in the 1960s as the Emergency Broadcast System) is tested for a national alert, even though the national alert function was the original, and remains the primary, focus of the EAS system. Today, EAS is used primarily for localized weather and Amber alerts.
Reporting test data
All EAS Participants must participate in the Nov. 9, 2011 nationwide test and must also submit test result data to the FCC no later than Dec. 27, 2011. EAS Participants may submit their test results either in paper format or electronically. Instructions for paper filings are outlined in the FCC’s Public Notice. EAS Participants choosing to submit test results electronically are directed to use the recently activated Nationwide EAS Test Reporting System. The Nationwide EAS Test Reporting System is comprised of three web-based forms that may be accessed and filed online through the FCC's website:
- Form 1 (available online now) asks participants to provide information about the facilities or system and a contact person;
- Form 2 (available online beginning Nov. 9, 2011) asks participants to indicate whether the test was received and/or passed on to other EAS Participants; and
- Form 3 (available online beginning Nov. 9, 2011) requires more detailed information about how the test was received, or why it was not received.
The FCC strongly encourages EAS Participants opting to use the electronic filing system to begin completing Form 1 as soon as possible.
Public service announcements
The FCC also has made available English and Spanish public service announcements (PSAs) advising the public of the upcoming Nationwide EAS Test. The PSAs are available here. The purpose of the PSAs is to alert the public that the Nov. 9, 2011 test is only a test and not a real emergency. EAS Participants are encouraged to transmit the PSAs to educate their consumers about the Nationwide EAS Test so as to avoid confusion on the date the test is implemented.
As this is an important test of the EAS system, and will require all EAS Participants to report on their compliance, everyone should be preparing to take part—and checking their systems to make sure that they are fully functional—now.
The Nationwide EAS Test is a test of the current EAS system, not of the new Internet-based Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) system. Implementation of the CAP system has been delayed until June 30, 2012. The current EAS system will remain in place even after CAP is implemented to provide redundancy, so this test remains an important priority for the FCC and other government emergency responders to make sure that the public can be alerted in the event of a nationwide emergency.