A Report from the FEMA National Advisory Council
The IPAWS Modernization Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-143) required FEMA to establish a NAC IPAWS Subcommittee with the goal of enasuring that the public alert and warning system:
January 17, 2019
This message is from Sage Alerting Systems regarding your Sage Digital ENDEC model 3644. It applies only to users in the United States.
Sage has released a firmware update (89-32) that supports the new Blue Alert (BLU) event code. This is a voluntary alert, you are not required to relay it. You are not required to install this release.
Please read the release notes at https://www.sagealertingsystems.com/release1-1/89-32-release-notes.pdf. For additional details. As described in the release notes, you must be up to date on your firmware to the 89-30 release with the cr-rev4 and si-rev5 certificate updates before installing this release. If you have been receiving CAP alerts from FEMA after October 1, 2018, then you are ready to install 89-32.
The installation process is straightforward, as described in the release notes. If you have previously installed the 2018 releases, you only need to install the 89-32.x file on your ENDEC, and the latest ENDECSetD program on your PC. The release notes also address a check that you will need to perform if you have used the old “new event” option in the settings file.
If you have any questions regarding this update, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 914-872-4069 and press 1 for support. If you get voice mail, please leave a message and we will return your call.
In January 2018 the FCC amended its regulations governing the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to add a new event code, B-L-U, to allow alert originators to issue an alert whenever a law enforcement officer is injured or killed, missing in connection with his or her official duties, or there is an imminent and credible threat to cause death or serious injury to law enforcement officers.
Delivery of Blue Alerts over EAS will be implemented January 18, 2019.
Sage Endec users: Update firmware will be available next week.
DasDec users: The BLU event code is in the v4.0 software update.
Trilithic/Viavi: includes BLU event code in its v18.10 software update.
Gorman-Redlich: has a update, contact their office for details
As a reminder the BLU event code is in the "voluntary" list, that is, it is not one of the FCC required relay alerts (EAN, NPT, RMT). Stations can elect to relay these alerts or not, with guidance from their state and local EAS plan.
Broadcasters and Cable Operators should watch for information updates from your SECC (State Emergency Communication Committee).
Blue Alerts over WEA takes effect July 18, 2019.
Larry Wilkins CPBE
Director of Engineering Services
Alabama Broadcasters Association
This Public Notice provides an initial overview of the 2018 nationwide tests of Wireless
Emergency Alerts (WEA) and the Emergency Alert System (EAS) conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) on October 3, 2018. At 2:18 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on that day, FEMA sent a WEA test message to WEA-capable wireless devices throughout the entire United States and territories. Immediately following the WEA nationwide end-to-end test, at 2:20 p.m. EDT, FEMA conducted a live test of the EAS. The EAS alert was transmitted in English and Spanish and included both audio and the text of the test message, which can be used to populate an accessible video crawl. All Participating Commercial Mobile Service (CMS) Providers were required to participate in the WEA portion of the test, while all EAS Participants were required to participate in the EAS portion of the test.
A nationwide FEMA map of PEP stations (from Indiana University)
Scott Flick, CommLawCenter
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the FCC, announced this morning that the National Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) tests scheduled for this Thursday, September 20, have been postponed due to “ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence.”
Instead, the tests will be conducted on the previously announced backup date of October 3. The Wireless Emergency Alerts test will commence at 2:18 p.m. EDT and the EAS test will commence at 2:20 p.m. EDT on that date. FEMA has indicated that the purpose of the tests is to “assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.”
Every gust of wind and every crashing wave marks the closing in of Hurricane Florence on the southeastern U.S coastline. As the window of time closes, radio stations in the projected path are using what hours remain to fine-tune disaster plans, coordinate with emergency officials and media partners, communicate with clients, and get air talent prepared to respond to what is expected to be a life-threatening, once-in-a-generation event.
As the massive storm, packing 130mph winds, steadily makes its way toward a landfall, broadcasters across the region are tapping all available resources and relying on time-tested emergency plans, which for some were updated after the horrendous 2017 hurricane season.
With Hurricane Florence upgraded to a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm, radio stations in the Carolinas and Virginia are busy following disaster preparation protocols to ensure they can provide essential information for listeners. As broadcasters line up resources, equipment and engineers, the former head of FEMA is urging local residents to make sure they have a working AM/FM radio in their disaster kit.
“Tracking #Florence? Keep a radio in your Disaster Kit,” Former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate wrote on Twitter Monday morning as the storm churned in the Atlantic Ocean on a northwesterly track. “Why, you have cell phone right? Until cellular services goes out, happen to me during Hurricane #Irma. No power, no Wifi, no cellular data. Radio was my only source for news and updates.”
EAS participants must complete ETRS Form One no later than Aug. 27
Emily Reigart, TV Technology
Aug 8, 2018
WASHINGTON--Last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the date and times for this year’s national tests of of the Wireless Emergency Alert and Emergency Alert System. Both are scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 20, but participating stations must first remember an important deadline.
PAUL GREELEY, TV NEWSCHECK
Two TV stations in Chico-Redding, Calif., KRCR and KHSL, devoted a combined 230 hours of continuous live coverage on television starting last Thursday. In addition, both posted hundreds of stories to their Facebook pages. Viewers noticed their coverage on TV and on Facebook, and flooded the stations with emails and Facebook comments.
By Larry Wilkins, CPBE, chair, SBE EAS Advisory Group
The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) has announced that a National EAS test will be sent on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. There is a difference between this test and the two previous tests. At 2:18 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), FEMA will send a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) test message to all WEA capable wireless devices throughout the entire United States and territories. Immediately following the WEA nationwide end-to-end test, at 2:20 p.m. EDT, FEMA will conduct a live test of the Emergency Alerting System (EAS). All EAS participants are required to participate in this nationwide test. The EAS message will be disseminated via the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
FCC PROMOTES EMERGENCY ALERT RELIABILITY
Action Supports More Effective Local Emergency Alert Tests and PSAs,
Addresses False Alerts, and Seeks to Improve Wireless Alerts
WASHINGTON, July 12, 2018—The Federal Communications Commission today took the
latest in a series of actions to bolster the reliability of the nation’s emergency alerting systems
and support greater community preparedness.
From Inside Radio
What was just an idea on the drawing boards just a few years ago is becoming nearly a routine for broadcasters. The Federal Emergency Management has proposed Sept. 20 at 2:18pm ET as the date and time for the next nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. After conducting a first-ever national EAS test in 2011, the 2018 test would be a fourth dry run of an infrastructure designed to allow a President to speak to the country in case of a national emergency.
By Shawn and Tom Marhefka for Radio Ink
Over a foot of rain fell in the city of West Plains, Missouri, in a short time on April 29, 2017. That rain, coupled with nearly two feet of rainwater from storms north of town flowing through the city’s saturated waterways, led to dozens of water rescues in town and several hundred thousand dollars of damage. Amazingly, there were no fatalities.
A low-water crossing near West Plains City Hall hits nearly 10 feet several hours after the flooding event in West Plains. Several hundred homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed by the floodwaters.
As a local radio broadcaster, the Ozark Radio Network has long supported the activation of FM chips in smartphones. But it wasn’t until a devastating flood hit our rural Missouri town and the surrounding area last year that we experienced firsthand the real importance of getting the FM chip activated.
New data from Nielsen Audio shows that news/talk radio stations saw a momentous spike in Puerto Rico amid the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The just-released winter 2018 survey for the Nielsen radio diary market reveals that more than 991,000 12+ listeners each week tuned to a news-formatted radio station.
This marks a dramatic increase of more than 100,000 weekly listeners from the most recent survey, Summer 2017. In Fall 2016, Nielsen reported 946,200 listeners in its survey trend; in Winter 23017, the audience was 836,400; in Spring 2017, it was 882,900 and in Summer 2017, 891,400.
Truncated version of a tsunami test message was erroneously broadcast over EAS
SUSAN ASHWORTH, Radio World
Another emergency warning misstep seems to have occurred — this time in Alaska — when the National Tsunami Warning Center issued a supposedly routine communications test at 7 a.m. on Friday, May 11, that was interpreted as a real warning.
Ryan Bell, Columbia Journalism Review
ON SEPTEMBER 19, 2017—the day before Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico—the evening news team at WORA-TV in the coastal city of Mayagüez broadcast its final program before shutting down the station ahead of the storm.
“If Maria was going to be the monster everyone was predicting,” says Carolina Rodriguez Plaza, the news team’s production manager, “we knew the power could be cut off for a long time. We decided to shut down the station and send everyone home.”
Phil Kurz, Government Videos
WASHINGTON--Interested in a technical career at the Federal Communications Commission? Are you currently an engineering student or recent grad from an engineering school? If so, the new FCC Honors Engineer Program may be exactly what you are looking for.
"The use of the BLU event code is voluntary, and EAS Participants may
update their software to add the BLU event code on a voluntary basis. Such
software updates may be bundled with other routine software updates to
minimize burden and expense."
On April 10, the FCC released its decision regarding filing EAS plans on line. According to the FCC, “The Commission takes steps to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) by establishing the Alert Reporting System (ARS). The ARS will create a comprehensive online filing system for EAS by combining the existing EAS Test Reporting Federal Communications Commission FCC 18-39 2 System (ETRS) with a new, streamlined electronic system for the filing of State EAS Plans….”
The decision includes issues beyond simply the electronic filing of state EAS plans. Depending on your state, this could result in some changes to your plan. You may want to forward a copy of the decision to your state SECC.
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau's Report and Recommendations Concerning the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency's January 13, 2018, False Emergency Alert
FEMA has released its report on the 2017 national EAS test. Note particularly the reporting problems discussed in the last couple of pages.
Bipartisan support for a proposal to raise the maximum fine for pirate radio to as much as $2 million emerged in the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology on Thursday. During a discussion into the proposed Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement or “PIRATE” Act, which is being circulated among members, lawmakers agreed the current fines have come up short in the effort to go after pirate radio operators. “It’s high time we pay more attention to the harm being done to consumers and broadcasters alike,” Subcommittee chair Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said.
Federal law presently allows the Federal Communications Commission to impose a maximum fine of $19,246 per day for each violation or each day up to a statutory maximum of $144,344. The proposal would boost that to as much $100,000 per day, per violation with a maximum fine allowed by law of $2 million.
The impact of pirate stations may be well known to anyone in radio, but New York State Broadcasters Association president David Donovan explained to lawmakers how unlicensed stations are putting the public at risk from their potential interference with the Emergency Alert System’s daisy-chain fabric to potentially exposing people to RF radiation from stations that have been known to run up to as much as 3,000-watts. “The bottom line is that if you live in the top floors of these buildings or use a rooftop deck you are being exposed to levels that are above government standards,” he explained. Donovan—armed with photographic evidence of towers topping homes and apartment buildings—also explained how pirates often ignore rules banning advertising for alcohol and tobacco and play unedited versions of songs that would get licensed stations in trouble for violating indecency regulations. “The fundamental purpose of the FCC is to manage spectrum and avoid interference,” Donovan said. “It has become clear that the FCC needs additional tools to combat this problem and the PIRATE Act provides those tools.”