The National EAS Test, held on Wednesday, November 9 at 2:00 p.m., was generally a successful test for Michigan radio, TV, cable and satellite providers.
"The largest problem was on the audio signal sent by FEMA on the Primary Station network which affected all of the U.S.," says Karole White, President and CEO of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB). "Aside from that national problem, the remainder of the concerns are currently being identified. Since there has never been an opportunity to actually test the national code, there were, understandably, some problems that were not possible to find until now. We are working with those few stations to make sure we're ready for the next test, or an actual warning event, should that ever be needed."
The MAB was pleased to work with the Michigan Cable Telecommunications Association (MCTA) on this project, and for the wonderful cooperation between all of the engineers, both broadcast and cable. The National EAS Test did exactly what it was designed to do - it uncovered the problem areas that need more work.
According to White, some of the issues experienced across the nation will disappear once all stations, NOAA, FEMA and local emergency managers, begin utilizing the common alerting protocol (CAP) and digital EAS equipment. Full adoption of the new CAP system is required by June 2012.
"This test was done using the legacy analog distribution system from FEMA to a set of specially equipped AM stations and relies on an over-the-air path, which the federal government must maintain for the most serious of national emergencies," said Larry Estlack, MAB Director of Technology and Michigan EAS Chairman. "The State of Michigan, as well as many counties, also use a digital delivery system which uses satellite and Internet. When remaining stations and cable systems complete installations using new CAP compliant equipment connected to the Internet portion, we then will have multiple paths for emergency communications to assure that Michigan residents are informed, no matter what kind of media devices they are using."
The EMnet system offers a back-bone which can activate may other warning and communications systems with one entry. It allows emergency managers to place important emergency messages on radio and TV, based on certain criteria, even when the station is automated with no one on duty.
"Michigan emergency managers have tested and have been using the new EMnet system for well over two years," said Estlack. "We are working with the state police to put the final touches on a new statewide emergency communications plan required by the FCC. It will be an evolving document as things change. Right now we are working on local emergency communications plans and once that is complete we will file the plan with the FCC and FEMA."
"Emergency managers around the state are to be congratulated for their foresight in purchasing a communications system that will do so many things," said White. "The EMnet emergency communications system has the capability to grow with advancements in technology. Many earlier systems did just one thing and when people moved away from that technology, the system became outdated. EMnet now is in every LP 1 and 2 station in the state, Michigan State Police MIOC and Emergency Operations and in the hands of the majority of emergency managers in the state."
To the residents of Michigan this should be a comfort. You will receive emergency communications in a number of different formats to assure that everyone is informed in times of emergency.