The Federal Communications Commission took the first steps in implementing the first-ever presidential alert for the national Emergency Alert System, when FCC voted last week to run a full test of the system and to provide rules for its use.
The alert system is not a new concept, but the idea of including presidential announcements is. The concept has been hampered by the lack of an official test of the system, which FCC says now will happen.
“The primary goal is to provide the president with a mechanism to communicate with the American public during times of national emergency,” said Lisa Fowlkes, deputy chief of FCC’s public safety and homeland security bureau, according to Federal News Radio.
The revamped alert system will allow presidential announcements to be transmitted from Washington, D.C., to television and radio broadcasters nationally.
Along with authorizing the test, FCC also unanimously voted to create rules facilitating the use of the presidential alert system.
The test will help FCC, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service, to assess the current system and determine what improvements need to be undertaken.
FCC’s authorization of the EAS test comes as broadband technologies continue to evolve and FCC develops Next Generation EAS systems.
While no official date for the test has been set, FCC said the national test will require cable and satellite providers that participate in the EAS program to transmit a live code that includes a presidential alert message.