FEMA Delays National Public Alerting Test Until 2021
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 | Comments

Because of the ongoing coronavirus public health emergency response, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will not conduct a national test of the integrated public alert and warning system (IPAWS) this year.

FEMA is moving the next national test of the system to 2021 out of consideration for the unusual circumstances and working conditions for those in the broadcast and cable industry. Although systems remain in place for rapid automatic transmission of the test message by broadcast and cable operators, the follow-on reporting activities associated with a national test place additional burdens on technical staff that are already quite busy maintaining as close to normal operations as possible.

IPAWS is a national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency alert and information messaging to the public through cellphones and internet applications using wireless emergency alerts (WEA), and to radio and television via the emergency alert system (EAS). Emergency officials across the country sent more than 360 important safety messages on the COVID-19 pandemic to their residents via WEA and EAS.

FEMA is required by law to test IPAWS at least every three years. The national WEA capability was most recently tested in conjunction with the EAS in 2018.

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