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Image credit: Shutterstock / Maxal Tamor

FCC wants to make the emergency alert system more reliable

It authorized tests to help train both officials and the general public.
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Shutterstock / Maxal Tamor

In the wake of January's false nuclear missile warning in Hawaii, the FCC is looking to improve the reliability of its Emergency Alert system. Now authorized state and local officials can conduct "live code" tests of the system, which use the same alert sounds and processes as an actual emergency would. The idea is to help train local officials in using the alerts, as well as teaching members of the public how to respond to real alerts. These tests are required to be coordinated, planned, and come with disclaimers.

In addition, the FCC is allowing public service announcements (PSAs) about the Emergency Alert System to use the two-tone Attention Signal and simulate the Header Code, which are the three tones you hear before the Attention Signal. The commission has also formalized processes to configure Emergency Alert equipment so that it minimizes false alerts, and how to contact the Commission if a fake alert is sent out. The FCC has also asked for comment on specific measures that might help prevent false alarms in the future.

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