The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stated that it has combined two categories of SMS alerts into one: the “Presidential alertsAnd alerts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Both will now be in a new “National Alerts” category, active on all devices that receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).

The purpose of alerts is to warn the public of natural disasters and other crisis situations, “and are of increasing importance given the emergencies and disasters that Americans have faced in recent years,” the FCC said. in a press release. press release (pdf). The false alarm in Hawaii in 2018, where locals were warned of an imminent ballistic missile threat that was not real, stressed the need to improve its warning system, the agency said.

The new rules provide states with a checklist of information for their own emergency alert systems and encourage states to form committees to help administer state-level alerts. Under the new rules, government agencies can now report false emergency alerts to the FCC’s 24/7 operations center and provide advice on how whistleblowers can repeat a transmission alert.

Later this summer, FEMA and FCC will conduct a nationwide test of wireless alerts and the Emergency Alert System (EAS) that sends alerts to radios and televisions. Both tests are scheduled for 2:20 p.m. ET on August 11.

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