FEMA delivering nationwide Emergency Alert Test for mobile devices

Posted October 05, 2018

At 2:18 pm EDT on Wednesday (11:18 am PDT), most mobile subscribers in the United States can expect a "Presidential Alert" to brighten their day. Eastern (1:18 p.m. Central) and the EAS message will be sent two minutes later, at 2:20 p.m.

The first test of the national wireless emergency system by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is shown on a phone.

The exercise had been scheduled for September 20, but was delayed until October 3 due to the impact of Hurricane Florence in North and SC. Still, it's a bit unsettling to know that the federal government can reach you whenever it wants-and perfectly reasonable to wonder whether in 30 years we'll be getting texts from the government about more than just national emergencies.

The test today is a joint WEA and EAS test.

The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system was launched in 2012 following criticism of George W Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but Wednesday marked its first-ever nationwide test.

Some Trump critics seized on the alert's transmission to poke fun at the president.

It's the same kind of message that warns people of critical situations, including risky weather, but the test was put on hold due to a real emergency last month.

That means that no one-including the president-is allowed to abuse the system to send messages that don't have to do with disasters or other safety threats. TV and radio alerts have been tested before. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not.

FEMA estimated about 225 million electronic devices, or about 75 percent of all mobile phones in the country, would receive the alert. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says the "Presidential Alert" message is a test of a new alert system for national emergencies, reports Reuters.

The alerts will sound as long as the device is turned on - even if it's on mute or do not disturb, and it may also appear on smart watches, officials said.

The content of the message made it clear that the message is only a drill.

The Southern District of NY court docket indicates summons were issued to Trump and FEMA Director William "Brock" Long on September 26.

Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security chief, told CBS This Morning that the alert is only used for "true emergencies when we need to get the public's attention". And, unlike other alerts, Americans can't opt-out of receiving a presidential alert. Johnson said it is created to be used very rarely - and without "political agenda".

"So some people got the presidential alert and some people didn't?"

When will we get another message blast in the future?