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Congress

Officials Prepare For First National Emergency Alert Test

November 4, 2011

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission are preparing for the first nationwide test of the emergency alert system

The familiar alert is often tested at local levels, but it has never been tested across the entire nation at once. The test is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

"The various disasters our country has faced this year underscore the need for effective and well-tested emergency alert and warning systems that could be used in a time of real emergency, at a moment's notice," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wrote in a letter to agencies and other organizations.

The test will send an approximately 30-second signal on all broadcast radio and television stations, cable television systems, satellite radio and television systems, and wireline video service systems.

Not included in the test is the new Personal Localized Alerting Network, which is designed to send text message alerts to mobile devices. That system was launched in New York City in May, with the rest of the nation expected to follow in the next few years.

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