Digital Alert Systems announced guidance ahead of the next National Periodic Test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), scheduled for Aug. 7 at 2:20 p.m. EDT. All broadcast and cable operators must participate in the test, which is conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the FCC. Digital Alert Systems' preparation document is available at http://www.digitalalertsystems.com/DAS_PDF/DAS%20FSB-7119.pdf.
"This year's national EAS test is happening almost two months earlier than last year's, so now is a good time to start preparing if you haven't already. We put together a brief with the necessary steps people must take and recommendations that will help ensure a successful test," said Ed Czarnecki, senior director of strategy and government affairs for Monroe Electronics and Digital Alert Systems. "The FCC issued a report on the outcome of the 2018 test and noted that, for the small percentage of test failures, the main problems were audio quality issues, equipment misconfigurations, out-of-date software, and device failure. Our readiness document can help operators avoid those pitfalls."
An important part of the test procedure is submitting the required forms through the FCC's EAS Test Reporting System site (ETRS). Form One, which covers EAS equipment status, was due by July 3. Form Two, which will track how the system performs on the day of the test, is due on Aug. 7. Form Three, which will cover additional detail on any test issues or failures, is due by Sept. 23.
In addition to completing the required paperwork, EAS participants should take other steps to prepare for the test. Those steps include checking that EAS equipment is powered on and operating and that backup power is functional; ensuring that the equipment's radio monitors are tuned to the appropriate monitoring sources to accept national alerts; and ensuring that the equipment's software is updated. For example, Digital Alert Systems DASDEC and One-Net devices should be operating with at least version 3.0 software. Proper equipment configuration is also important, especially when it comes to the system clock. Participants should confirm their devices are synced to the right time and time zone.
"The Digital Alert Systems guidance is intended not just for DASDEC and One-Net users, but for any EAS participant. These national tests are most effective when everyone is prepared and the technology is ready to go, so we invite everyone to share the document within your organizations," Czarnecki said.
The 2019 test will be disseminated via the EAS broadcast-based Primary Entry Point (PEP) system and not the Internet-based FEMA IPAWS CAP message system as it was last year. The results are intended to help FEMA and the FCC further assess how the national EAS would function should a national emergency occur when the Internet and other forms of communication are unavailable. If conditions on the day of the test require it, the test will be rescheduled to Aug. 21.