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Was Today's Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test a Failure?


FCC and FEMA are currently collecting data about the results.

For the first time today the Emergency Alert System took over television and radio airwaves nationwide to conduct a test from the Emergency Alert System. But just how successful was this test?

According to the New York Times, some were reporting seeing the test work perfectly at its scheduled time while others were delayed or never saw the message at all:

Many of the reported failures affected cable and satellite television subscribers, and some were quite head-scratching: Some DirecTV subscribers said their TV sets played the Lady Gaga song “Paparazzi” when the test was underway. Some Time Warner Cable subscribers in New York said the test never appeared on screen. Some Comcast subscribers in northern Virginia said their TV sets were switched over to QVC before the alert was shown.

In some cases the test messages were delayed, perhaps because they were designed to trickle down from one place to many. A viewer in Minneapolis said he saw the message about three minutes late. A viewer in Chattanooga, Tenn., said she saw it about 10 minutes late.

Business Insider's Zeke Miller reports that at as late as 2:09, they were still waiting for the test to run in New York. Business Insider reports this statement by FEMA Spokeswoman, Rachel Racusen:

“The nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System test was administered and the FCC and FEMA are currently collecting data about the results. This initial test was the first time we have tested the reach and scope of this technology and what additional improvements that should be made to the system as we move forward.   Only through comprehensively testing, analyzing, and improving these technologies can we ensure an effective and reliable national emergency alert and warning system.  We thank all of our partners who made this test possible and look forward to working with all our stakeholders to improve this current technology and build a robust, resilient, and fully accessible next generation alerting system that can provide timely and accurate alerts to the American people.”

Gizmodo reported that National Journal's Marc Ambinder wrote, the Federal Emergency Management Association acknowledged that a "glitch" occurred, which could be related to the equipment of cable and satellite providers.

Before this first nationwide test, emergency alerts were controlled by local jurisdictions. Glitches like what happened today is clearly why we have tests.

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