The US government is going to send a message to all US mobile phones on Thursday 20 September in order to test an alert system put in place to alert the public about national emergencies.
The test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is aimed at assessing whether improvements need to be made to the system. The alerts – carried out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), alongside the Federal Communications Commission (FFC) – are set to arrive at 2:18pm EDT and 2:20pm EDT.
The WEA test, lasting approximately 30 minutes, will come first and be sent to all mobile phones connected to wireless providers participating in WEA. It will use a special tone and vibration on devices and users cannot opt out of the test.
The message will have the headline “Presidential Alert” and will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The WEA system was created to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations.
This will be followed by the EAS test which is set to last around one minute and will be similar to the EAS text messages that the US population is already used to.
The EAS message will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”
There is a possibility that the test could be rescheduled, should something like a major weather event occur. If so, the test will be pushed to Wednesday 3 October.