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Nationwide Test of the Emergency Broadcast System

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the my-tin-foil-hat-is-already-melting dept.

Communications 271

First time accepted submitter PattonPending writes "Mark your calendars! On November 9th national communications will be disrupted for around 3 minutes during the first nationwide test of the emergency broadcast system. From the article: 'On November 9, at 2 PM EST, FEMA will transmit the EAS code for national level emergencies to Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations in the national level of the EAS. The PEP stations will then rebroadcast the alert to the general public in their broadcast vicinity, as well as to the next level of EAS Participants monitoring them. This should continue through all levels of the system, until the national alert has been distributed throughout the entire country.'"

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Now THERE'S a system you don't want hacked (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830474)

Cue inevitable future headline "Anonymous Hacks FEMA System, Broadcasts Godzilla Attack Warning Across U.S."

Re:Now THERE'S a system you don't want hacked (5, Funny)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830528)

"Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards the earth with enormous velocity. Professor Pierson of the Observatory at Princeton confirms Farrell's observation, and describes the phenomenon as (quote) "like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun" (unquote). We now return you to the music of Ramón Raquello, playing for you in the Meridian Room of the Park Plaza Hotel, situated in downtown New York. "

Re:Now THERE'S a system you don't want hacked (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830746)

Too oldschool

Today its all about the zombies:

  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2011/06/24/zombie-warning-kentucky-_n_883737.html [huffingtonpost.com]

Re:Now THERE'S a system you don't want hacked (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830846)

The latest, to my knowledge, in conspiracy circles is a false flag alien attack, as a fix to both the economy and to grab power.
Now I don't know about powergrabbing, but given the previous display of incomptetent economy fixes it doesn't sound all that unlikely they'd try this one too.

Re:Now THERE'S a system you don't want hacked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831008)

damn classy, sir.

Re:Now THERE'S a system you don't want hacked (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831400)

Good evening, America. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of the everyday routine, the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration - whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday - I thought we could mark this November the fifth, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

Re:Now THERE'S a system you don't want hacked (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830942)

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Re:Now THERE'S a system you don't want hacked (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830980)

It could be worse. The hackers could put an email about the death of Stephen King.

Re:Now THERE'S a system you don't want hacked (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831384)

Godzilla? Anonymous could surely broadcast something more fitting to their symbolism.

Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine — the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke...

and so forth.

I wonder: (4, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830502)

Did they pick 11/9 for this on purpose?

Re:I wonder: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830694)

Of course. It's 9-1-1 backwards. Duh.

Re:I wonder: (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830824)

Of course. It's 9-1-1 backwards. Duh.

No because its 9/11 in Europe!

Re:I wonder: (3, Insightful)

MagicM (85041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830706)

Yes and no. FTFA:

The November 9 date is near the end of hurricane season and before the severe winter weather season begins in earnest. The 2 PM EST broadcast time will minimize disruption during rush hours, while ensuring that the test occurs during working hours across the United States.

Re:I wonder: (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831306)

"The 2 PM EST broadcast time will minimize disruption during rush hours,"

In CST and MST it will be lunchtime rush hours.. But I don't suppose FEMA give a sh!t about the middle of the country.

"while ensuring that the test occurs during working hours across the United States."

I work night shift you insensitive clods!

(But actually I'd rather not be at work when theres one of those test alerts - its bad enough trying to explain a real storm to some of the confused residents.

Perfect time for an incident (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830532)

Just like when I was a kid, I wondered what would happen if the Russians launched a strike at noon on a Wednesday, which is when the Civil Defense siren on top of our school was tested.

Re:Perfect time for an incident (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830640)

Yea, we all know you're so fucking smart and everyone else is stupid. Except this is a test of the system itself, not a scenario or exercise on our response to the system, so it doesn't matter what time it's run.

Re:Perfect time for an incident (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830696)

Except this is a test of the system itself, not a scenario or exercise on our response to the system

I thought that was the point OP was trying to make. Since we all know it's just a test, would seem to be the perfect time for some 3rd party to actually try something.

Wait for it... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830716)

WHOOSH

Re:Perfect time for an incident (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831020)

A few years back I was a consultant at a factory. They had scheduled drills every Tuesday. Different patterns meant different parts of the factory had to evacuate. On those Tuesdays there was the 10:00am normal dill then a 2:00pm test drill on a particular location. One day the 2:00 drill went off so we went to our normal business but it went on for longer so we knew that we needed to leave.

The message to be sent (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830540)

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards the earth with enormous velocity. Professor Pierson of the Observatory at Princeton confirms Farrell's observation, and describes the phenomenon as (quote) like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun (unquote). We now return you to the music of RamÃn Raquello, playing for you in the Meridian Room of the Park Plaza Hotel, situated in downtown New York.

Did you notice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830544)

There's a /. button on THEIR PAGE.

Re:Did you notice? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831120)

that is actually surprising to me.

FItting quote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830550)

Cereal Killer: I kinda feel like God.

Re:FItting quote... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831058)

That son of a bitch cereal killer killed Cap'n Crunch.

Obligatory (5, Funny)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830554)

On November 9th national communications will be disrupted...

A communications disruption can mean only one thing...

Re:Obligatory (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830680)

A communications disruption can mean only one thing...

That for three minutes people realize they could be outside or reading a book? No, instead the nation will groan as a collective unit and curse the government.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830962)

A communications disruption can mean only one thing...

That for three minutes people realize they could be outside or reading a book? No, instead the nation will groan as a collective unit and curse the government.

I second that. Your statement, that is ;)

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830876)

Invasion

Well, of course... (1)

G-Man (79561) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830560)

...Obama wants it ready for when he declares martial law! I kid, I kid (at least I think I'm kidding...)

Re:Well, of course... (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831172)

Considering his track record, you might not be far from the truth.

EAS is so low tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830576)

Why aren't they hooked to e.g. youtube (interrupt and replace all running video streams), and cell networks (at least send everyone a broadcast text message, could have a link to the video for smartphones).

Re:EAS is so low tech (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830778)

Well.. a while back, as I was watching something on my TiVo, an emergency alert test popped up. I tried fastforwarding through it, changing to a live channel, going back to the main menu, but nothing worked. For the duration of the test, I was locked out of my TiVo. So while the system might not be as broad reaching as you are suggesting, it's definitely been changed from your grandparents' EAS.

Re:EAS is so low tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831234)

My grandparents didn't have an EAS. They didn't even have an EBS.

Re:EAS is so low tech (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830996)

I believe the cell phone infrastructure is in place (or will be, soon), but the actual policy for determining what gets reported is still contentious. Nobody's going to argue about nuclear bombs or tornadoes (and possibly earthquakes, with the idea being that the warning itself would be moot by the time you got it, but sending a message once the earthquake is confirmed at t=1 or 2 seconds might increase the likelihood that people 10-30 miles away would be physically holding their phone in their hand when the shockwaves arrived), but beyond that there's a long, slippery slope of potential mass public annoyance.

Youtube will never happen. If you were Youtube, would YOU ever consent to being required to get all software and infrastructure updates approved by the government, with service disruptions and bureaucratic certification delays along the way? IP multicast would be far more appropriate and service-agnostic. If you care about receiving them, you'd run the client app on your PC, and enable it with a firmware update to your router.

This is a test... (2)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830586)

"This is a test. This is only a test. If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been writhing on the ground in unspeakable pain, bleeding from every orifice, while your skin peeled off in long, black, ragged strips. This was only a test." (Unknown)

Re:This is a test... (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830754)

If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been writhing on the ground in unspeakable pain, bleeding from every orifice, while your skin peeled off in long, black, ragged strips.

How do they know that feature works? They should test that to!

effectiveness in 2011 (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830602)

I have to wonder whether this system has lost its effectiveness today. In the 1960s, the combination of radio and television would reach a pretty big percentage of the population; during the day someone in any given house or office was probably watching TV or listening to the radio. But with more people listening to music on iPods and watching video on DVD/DVR - to say nothing of streaming services over IP - that's a lot more gaps in the system.

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (3, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830652)

Japan's government-mandated cellphone earthquake alerts are a wonderful modern solution to that issue. If there's one thing you can count on, it's that you either have a cellphone or are near many people who do.

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (1)

sid_vicious (157798) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830730)

I thought the same thing recently when I watched a DVR'd TV show displaying an emergency announcement about a tornado from three days ago. Fat lot of good that did me, it just interrupted my show - if the tornado was going to get me, it would have done it three days ago.

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830854)

Interesting.. as I'd mentioned in a prior post, when I was watching a pre-recorded show on my TiVo a while back, a live EAS test message played and completely locked me out of my TiVo for the duration of the test. Wonder what the difference was between your situation and mine.

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831000)

The difference is that on the alert he got it was probably just something that the station being recorded added. The "Important information from Weather Center 6" type scrolls or break ins. The thing you saw was an actual EAS alert, which is different.

EAS alerts have a distinctive noise they make before the announcement. Station alerts generally just are an overlay they put over the show, with no audio at all.

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831014)

To further clarify, EAS alerts are sent to the cable and satellite provides in addition to the TV stations. That is what enables them to take control of the DVR/Tivo.

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831124)

I've had those EAS alerts actually cancel recordings on a Comcast/Motorola DVR. I kicked Comcast to the curb in favor of DirecTV (better DVR, there is 1080p programming available, and almost* zero compression artifacts, and ESATA and USB are enabled so I can add 2TB to the DVR) and so far haven't experienced EAS annoyances on DirecTV, but it's been less than a month so far.

* I say almost, because it's not noticeable unless pixel peeping

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831332)

I don't think I've ever lost any recordings, but my Comcast/Motorola DVR's sometimes lock up completely on EAS alerts and stay that way until power cycled.

On the plus side, even the boxes that are "off" display EAS in the channel/time indicator, so I could potentially be alerted whether watching TV or not.

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830872)

True, but if you do much more than that, the tests become intolerable. What about an opt-in system where you have an app running on your PC, iPhone, etc, and that app listens for alerts and alerts you in a way that's consistent with the behavior of that operating system?

The gaps are being filled (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830874)

In 2008 the FCC mandated an emergency alert system for cell phones, which would send a text message to everyone in the affected region. This is being rolled out now [nytimes.com] but isn't yet ready nation-wide.

IPAWS and Common Alerting Protocol solve this (1)

StandardCell (589682) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830886)

FEMA and the FCC had a big display for a solution to this problem at this year's National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas. The system is called IPAWS or Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. It augments traditional broadcast-based EAS infrastructure with IP-based infrastructure and mobile using the Common Alerting Protocol. The FEMA guy told me that this is an ongoing effort to integrate all these systems but that it is recognized and it will take a few years, especially on integration with over-the-top content delivery. The press release is here: http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=52880 [fema.gov]

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830888)

I don't know if there is any perfect solution. Automated cell phone messaging would be nice but not when I'm sleaping. I have this weather radio (no affil):
http://www.reecominc.com/r1650.htm [reecominc.com]

So it will wake me during an emergency (SAME and EAS signals). However, this isn't as portable as a cell phone.

Just text them (1)

wstrucke (876891) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830918)

I guarantee text messages would reach everyone else.

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (1)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830920)

It's more that the 24 hour news media has made the requirement for a national broadcast system obsolete. 9/11 was as good a reason as any to use the EBS, but because the attacks were already all over the dial/internet there was no real need.

That said, the days of TV are numbered. A more useful extension would be to integrate national/regional/cell tower-specific emergency messaging so that they can be used for everything from natural disasters to controlling riots.

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830940)

The EAS is not the whole alert system, just the part that is being tested. From the FCC announcement:

"As such, the EAS will continue to function as one key component of a national alert and warning system that will provide alerts over multiple communications platforms, including mobile communications devices."

Re:effectiveness in 2011 (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831092)

And yet, if you are watching a movie on cable, recording a movie on your DVR, or even watching on demand these fucking "this is a test" broadcasts interrupt things. If it isn't real, I don't want to fucking know about it - and even if it is real, short of a tornado, alien or communist invasion, or Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station experiencing a clusterfuck of a meltdown, I don't want to hear about it until I actively check the news. Scratch that - even if Pilgrim melts down due to negligence, I don't want to hear about it since I'm far enough away that unless we have a southwesterly wind it won't affect me, so interrupt my radio listening, TV/movie viewing, etc. only in the event of a tornado warning (somewhat rare here) or alien or communist invasion. kthxbye. :)

Seriously - it's frigging annoying when these "this is only a test" broadcasts interrupt even on-demand in the evening. It wouldn't be so bad if, being over digital streams, it were displayed as a popup that doesn't interrupt recordings, interrupt on demand, etc. and I can just click out of the way, but oh no it has to be so intrusive it actually cancels the recording. WTF?

Re:DVR (1)

billmarrs (97555) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831422)

Actually, TiVos get disrupted by EBS signals. Honestly, it's super annoying! It seems that if any channel runs a EBS test, the Tivo responds by kicking you out of whatever you're watching and showing a large banner across the screen for a few minutes. There's no way to stop it or make it go back to playing your recording until it's done. Usually, it happens during the middle of the day. But, this is when I'm on my treadmill watching TiVo shows, so I get annoyed by this about once a month.

I still think you make a good point otherwise, but TiVos do try to play along (maybe they are required by law?).

Nationwide? What nation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830626)

Not everyone here is American, you know.

Re:Nationwide? What nation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830648)

We know. We just don't care, is the thing.

Re:Nationwide? What nation? (1)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830654)

My first thought as well.

Re:Nationwide? What nation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830742)

Not everyone here is American, you know.

You ask what nation, yet reference not being American, showing you know what nation. It's almost like you've figured out this is an American-based web site, which American staff and therefore can assume a strong focus on things that hap... oh I won't even bother finishing. You're just a troll.

Re:Nationwide? What nation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830744)

You ask which nation, then make it clear that you know the answer perfectly well. What's the point of this post?

Re:Nationwide? What nation? (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830784)

America isn't a nation either.... :P

Re:Nationwide? What nation? (0)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830810)

Domain ID:D2289308-LROR
Domain Name:SLASHDOT.ORG ...
Registrant Country:US ...
Admin Country:US

Hmm. Imagine that, slashdot is a US-centric website.

Perhaps you should go start some other news aggregator that's more internationally focused.

Or you could just stop bitching. You know, the easy way.

Re:Nationwide? What nation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830990)

Europe is like Jenna from 30 Rock. They hate it whenever theres a conversation topic that doesn't involve them in any way so they whine until we pay attention to them again. If you're not familiar with 30 Rock, then instead imagine a 4 year old that is quiet until his mom is on the phone then begs for attention.

First time, eh? (-1, Troll)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830634)

I predict the system will experience some kind of failure resulting in additional [legislation, spending, you-fill-in-the-blank] resulting in even greater abrogation of civil rights... all in the name of "fighting terrorism". Think of the children!

Re:First time, eh? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831144)

Indulge me for a moment. Is there any way they could do a test of this system which would not cause you to make that empty, cynical remark?

Re:First time, eh? (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831212)

OMG, YOU'RE RIGHT! If the system fails to reach even one person, the government is going to start rounding up people off the street and tossing them into forced labour camps. After all, it's for the children!

This message was brought to you by the Emergency Hysteria System (EHS).

Time to attack! (2)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830684)

How kind of them to notify us of when the entire warning system will be disrupted. If I wanted to stage an attack, this would be the perfect chance. All levels of emergency services will be 'confused' and not know what is real and what is fake.

Add the frightened sheep to the mix and it is a perfect chance for an act of terror.

Re:Time to attack! (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831034)

Similarly, how do you know it really worked if everyone knows the schedule? Everyone turns on their alarms at 2 whether they hear upstream or not, and says it was successful. If it was "some random minute between 2PM and 2:30PM", maybe chosen with the roll of a 20-sided die at 2PM, it would be a more realistic test. As for "real vs. fake" - "This is not a drill" sounds great in movies and TV, but you do *not* want to hear it in real life. Ever.

Re:Time to attack! (1)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831044)

If I wanted to stage an attack, this would be the perfect chance.

Indeed! Particularly when the FCC itself is saying that what the public sees and hears could vary:

What will people hear and see during the test?

During the test, viewers will hear a message indicating that “This is a test.” Although the National EAS Test may resemble the periodic, monthly EAS tests that most Americans are already familiar with, there will be some differences in what viewers will see and hear, which is one reason for conducting a national EAS test. The audio message will be the same for all EAS Participants; however, due to limitations in the EAS, the video test message scroll may not be the same or indicate that “This is a test.” This is due to the use of a “live” national code – the same code that would be used in an actual emergency. In addition, the background image that appears on video screens during an alert may indicate that “This is a test,” but in some instances there might not be an image at all. ...

Good times to be had by all!

Re:Time to attack! (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831122)

It is the emergency broadcast system, not the brain-control codes for the emergency services. Believe it or not, the fire department is capable of operating successfully if the emergency broadcast system is sounding, not sounding, doing a test, playing Barney, or on fire, because its system of operation is entirely orthogonal

Re:Time to attack! (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831278)

How kind of them to notify us of when the entire warning system will be disrupted. If I wanted to stage an attack, this would be the perfect chance. All levels of emergency services will be 'confused' and not know what is real and what is fake.

If the entire warning system would be 'disrupted', you'd have a point. But it won't be. Only the public alarms will be 'disrupted', while those used by emergency services will remain stable. Further, there are different messages for 'testing' and 'live' activation, which means the difference between the real and the fake is easily discerned.

What nation? (1, Insightful)

Erik Hensema (12898) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830720)

This is the internet. What nation are you referring to?

Re:What nation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831322)

You mean there are others?
(or you could click the link)

Which country does this apply to? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830724)

FEMA? Aren't they located in the US?
It would be nice to include that in the summary.
Oh, and the US ditched the emergency broadcast system back in the 90s. *sigh* It's even in the article.
So hard to get good summaries these days.

cell phones (1)

notea42 (926633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830782)

It seems like the system would be greatly enhanced by simply requiring the cellular providers to send a free text message to every subscriber. It could contain the essential information and/or a link to more info, or simply say, "Turn on the radio or TV"

Re:cell phones (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830922)

From TFA:

"As such, the EAS will continue to function as one key component of a national alert and warning system that will provide alerts over multiple communications platforms, including mobile communications devices."

The EAS is just part of a larger system.

Re:cell phones (1)

Another, completely (812244) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830972)

I like it. No explanation, just spookiness (it's on everywhere, after all):

Turn on a television. Any television. Any channel.

DO IT NOW!

Typical government initiative (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830828)

Typical government initiative - the nationwide system is finally ready 22 years after the end of the cold war, and 60 years after the threat was established.

Can we please cancel this program (we have the CNN and the Internet now) and take the useless TSA with it too?

Re:Typical government initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831286)

While the EAS (and predecessors the EBS and CONELRAD) weren't tested for a doomsday scenario deliberately[1], they have certainly proved invaluable to dealing with more local threats. Think tornados and the like: Unless a twister hits midtown Manhattan, there will not be live coverage by any of the major networks. Those people in the area of the tornado will appreciate the EAS warning, instead of cable news' "lol losers" news story the next day.

[1] http://earthsignals.com/add_CGC/Letters/NORAD_EBS.html [earthsignals.com]

Emergency Broadcast System (1)

stewbee (1019450) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830930)

slightly off topic, but I remember when I was younger there would be tv 'commercials' on Saturdays which would have these on. To give a time reference, this would have been during the very early 80's. (i know...get off my lawn, yada yada yada...) and it would have been in Michigan, but I am guessing it would have been a nationwide sort of thing. But now to think of it, I haven't seen one of these in ages! I am guessing they must have changed the requirements on this or something. Does anyone remember when the last time they saw one or what happened that they actually stopped this? Or is it possible that it still goes on, but now its just sandwiched between infomercials late at night?

Re:Emergency Broadcast System (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831084)

The tornado sirens and local EBS are tested Friday mornings at precisely 9:30 am.
I'm sure no one wants to hear tornado sirens at 2am unless there is a real tornado.

Mostly EBS is used locally to as a weapon in custody disputes. One parent wants to get the other in trouble, so if there's a traffic jam or kids soccer game runs late or whatever, the ex-spouse decides to have some fun and call in a child abduction.

Humorously EBS is utterly useless, because the locals go into stormageddon mode whenever there's anything more than light rain, and the endless custody disputes make people ignore or mute all EBS.

Re:Emergency Broadcast System (1)

stewbee (1019450) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831164)

What I am thinking of isn't the once a month tornado warning. This would be a commercial, followed by some guy saying 'this is a test of the emergency broadcast system...' and then there would be a tone for about 20 seconds, with more talking about how that was only a test and if it were real, you would have been given more instruction. That commercial is the specific one that I was thinking of.

Re:Emergency Broadcast System (1)

nani popoki (594111) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831108)

EBS tests happen about once a month at various times of the day. I didn't realize that it wasn't a coordinated test -- I never tried changing channels / stations during the 30-second test. We had a severe flood in my area a few months ago and there was an actual EBS message, so the system does see some real use.

Not the "this is a test" test. (3, Informative)

DewDude (537374) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830932)

This is different than the current test procedures. those are generated locally to make sure the stations equipment works. this going to be a live test. they are actually activating the new AES system as if there was an actual emergency.

the big difference over this new system is that it has better penetration. rather than relying on broasdcast stations alone, cable/satellite operators now have AES equipnent. when an alert is sent, it will interrupt whatever youre watching and throw your box over to a channel. so, unlike before if youre watching dvr or on demand and would miss these alerts, your viewing is interrupted. Verizon ran a test test the other morning at about 3am....dvr viewing was stopped...the box flashed AES on its display and i was shown a computer generated text screen. theyre even talking about being able to activate the system on things like hulu, netflix, xbox, but those are in the works (and may be implemented now).

Announcing the exact date seems bad... (2)

Tha_Big_Guy23 (603419) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830958)

I know, that in this environment of increasing paranoia, I'm probably not the first person to think that announcing a nationwide test of the emergency broadcast system and giving the exact date and time of the test could potentially be a bad plan. It seems to me that perhaps someone wishing to perform any sort of nationwide nefarious activities would plan to do so on a day like that. I can see it now...

"Did you hear that there is a "

"Oh, don't worry about it, they were just testing the emergency broadcast system today. Nothing to worry about."

Just my $0.02 though.

Re:Announcing the exact date seems bad... (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831054)

They test the civil defense siren in the Netherlands once a month, on the first Monday at 12:00. They have been doing so for years without issues, the main difference between a real problem and a test is the length. With the frequent tests you are used to the length, if they are suddenly longer you would notice something is wrong.

Sure, you could do a gas attack at 12:00 on the first Monday, and you would win a few minutes of confusion. But the system will still work.

Re:Announcing the exact date seems bad... (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831398)

This refers to an electronic warning system in an unspecified country.

As for sirens, to quote Wikipedia: "In the United States, sirens are a largely disorganized warnings systems."

Re:Announcing the exact date seems bad... (1)

Grave (8234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831204)

As opposed to not announcing it, and inducing a temporary panic when the warning goes off all over the country and nobody bothers to read/listen to the "oh hay, that was just a test kthxbai" message?

Re:Announcing the exact date seems bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831288)

yah, instead not announcing it, and sending millions in to a panic makes more sense... its the same reason they announce fire drills... imagine the system fails, and all it manages to do is send "THIS IS AN EMERGEN....&*(^O&*# NO CARRIER"...

Ron Paul for President (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830982)

Disrupt the idle couch potatoing of a large enough number of Americans and they may elect Ron Paul to get rid of FEMA!

Don't forget to listen to Mr. Thompson... (1)

defaria (741527) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830994)

... crackle, crackle...

For twelve years you've been asking "Who is John Galt?" This is John Galt speaking. I'm the man who's taken away your victims and thus destroyed your world. You've heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis and that Man's sins are destroying the world. But your chief virtue has been sacrifice, and you've demanded more sacrifices at every disaster. You've sacrificed justice to mercy and happiness to duty. So why should you be afraid of the world around you?

Purpose of System? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831010)

I always thought the emergency broadcast system was one of the coolest things our government could provide. It involves everyone in the broadcast business working together to convey information solely to help the public.

But then, this summer, one quarter of Burnet County burned nearby. At the same time other fires were spreading in Steiner Ranch, Cedar Park, and Pflugerville, all of which threatened or destroyed homes. And they never activated the emergency broadcast system. Sure the local TV networks had scrolls on the bottom of the screen, but they didn't cut from network content. The first night, only one local AM radio station (KLBJ FM) and twitter were providing any information at all.

So I have to ask: if apocalyptic fires aren't enough to activate the system, what is? I already know tornadoes aren't sufficient; it's never been used for those, either. Is it just a hurricane/volcano/nuclear war warning system? Why bother with it nationwide if that's all it's good for?

Re:Purpose of System? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831018)

I meant KLBJ AM. My mistake.

Re:Purpose of System? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831126)

It must depend on your local government. Where I live, they do sometime use the alerts for severe thunderstorms.

But...which nation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831066)

This brilliant story does not say it ;-)

No Warning For Me (1)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831096)

I'm glad I ditched satellite TV last month. Now I'll have to remember not to listen to the radio that day...

Radio Engineers (1)

AdamPee (1243018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831104)

All my radio engineers who had their EAS point of origin change with little announcement say yeeeeah. But seriously, this whole EAS "upgrade" thing has been nothing but a thorn in my side for the last couple weeks. Can't wait for it to be done with.

Which country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831182)

The summary never mentions that the country in question is the USA.

EAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831246)

The Emergency Broadcast System hasn't existing since 1997. This is the first nationwide test of EAS.

Where? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831312)

Which country is it about?

What, already? (2)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831340)

Another Election Day, another national emergency.

Sounds like (1)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831378)

The perfect time for an updated radioplay of War of the Worlds.
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