Mohammad Ashraful Islam
5 Oct 2023
Unpacking the October 4th Emergency Alert: A Deep Dive into EAS and WEA
Table of Contents:
If you’re here, you’ve likely heard about the nationwide emergency alert test that took place on October 4th 2023 in the United States. This event has sparked interest in the technologies behind these alerts: the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). Let’s dive into it…
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) in the USA was designed in 1997 for the President to speak to the American people in a national emergency1. It replaced the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), which was established in 1963, and which itself replaced CONELRAD, first brought online in 1951 to notify the public in the event of a Soviet attack during the Cold War2.
The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system is a more recent development. The Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act established WEA in 2008, and it became operational in 20123. WEA is a public safety system that allows customers who own compatible mobile devices to receive geographically targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area3.
These systems were established to ensure that the government could effectively communicate with the public during emergencies. The goal is to provide timely information to help people stay safe during such events3.
The October 4th Alert
On October 4th, phones across the United States blared with a loud, grating tone, twice. It was a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System by FEMA and the FCC, intended to immediately alert every American over TV, radio, and cellphone in the event of a national crisis.
While this system is crucial for public safety, it also raised concerns about its potential to inadvertently reveal hidden phones used by survivors of domestic violence. This incident underscores the importance of understanding and carefully implementing such technologies.
Emergency Alert System (EAS)
The EAS is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service providers, and direct broadcast satellite providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency2.
Key Technical Aspects of EAS
- Delivery Mechanism: EAS alerts are delivered either over the internet from FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) gateway or by over-the-air broadcast2.
- Redundancy: EAS Participants are required to monitor both systems for redundancy2.
- Enhanced Features: IPAWS offers digital sound, enhanced text, non-English alerts, multimedia, and URLs2.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)
Key Technical Aspects of WEA
- Initiation: The WEA portion of the test is initiated using FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), a centralized internet-based system administered by FEMA1.
- Distribution: WEA alerts are created and sent by authorized federal, state, local, tribal and territorial government agencies through IPAWS to participating wireless providers1.
- Geo-targeting: These alerts are then delivered to compatible handsets in geo-targeted areas1.
Devs Core: Your Partner in Implementing Alert Systems
Bangladesh does not have the exact systems like the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) that FEMA uses in the United States12. However, countries around the world, including Bangladesh, have been implementing various types of emergency alert systems tailored to their specific needs and technological infrastructure3.
It’s important to note that the implementation of such systems requires careful planning and coordination among various stakeholders, including government agencies, telecommunication providers, and emergency services. At Devs Core, we have the expertise to help guide this process and develop a robust and effective alert system tailored to Bangladesh’s needs.
We believe that with your support, we can make a significant impact on public safety in Bangladesh. If you’re interested in exploring this further, we invite you to reach out to us. Please visit our contact page or directly WhatsApp us using the chat button to get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you and exploring how we can work together to make a difference.