'Presidential Alert': FEMA to test emergency alert system next week

Trump Can Message You Directly On FEMA Alert System To Be Tested Next Week

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Thursday it will test a new emergency notification system next week that allows President Donald Trump to send emergency messages directly to US cellphones.

The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system is already in use in the U.S. -smartphone users are likely familiar with the loud, droning tone of flood warnings or Amber alerts.

More than 100 carriers, including the largest carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile), will participate in the emergency alert test, FEMA said. "No action is needed", the message will say.

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Former President Barack Obama signed a law in 2016 requiring FEMA to create a system that lets U.S. presidents send cellphone alerts regarding public safety issues like natural disasters and "terrorism". The president is the only one who can determine if an alert needs to be sent out. "The test is made available to EAS participants (i.e., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute".

When the alert comes, a tone and vibration will sound off twice - the same sound that is used for AMBER alerts and weather warnings. Any cellphone that is powered on, connected to a WEA member's network, and is within range of an active cell tower will receive the message once.

The messages will bear the headline "Presidential Alert", the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said in a statement this week.

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In the event of widespread severe weather or another significant event on September 20, the test will be pushed back to October 3, FEMA said.

'If you separate this from the politics and personality of any individual president, then this is a great idea and an fantastic use of technology to reach everybody if they're in harm's way, ' Karen North, director of the Annenberg Digital Social Media program at the University of Southern California, told NBC.

The test alert will be delivered straight to your phone around 1:18 p.m. central time.

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FEMA is also tasked with ensuring that the President can alert the public under all conditions in cases of national emergencies, including natural disasters and terrorist threats.

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