The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted the first-ever nationwide test of the EAS on November 9, 2011. While a large percentage of EAS Participants successfully received and retransmitted the Emergency Action Notification (EAN), some problems did surface, including: (1) widespread poor audio quality; (2) the inability of some EAS Participants either to receive or retransmit the EAN; and (3) anomalies in EAS equipment programming and operation. The Commission has now adopted a Sixth Report and Order that establishes specific operational standards for use during future tests and actual emergencies. Such standards include:
- The adoption of “six zeroes” (000000) as the national location code pertaining to every state and county in the United States, and a requirement that EAS Participants use equipment capable of processing this location code.
- The requirement that EAS Participants’ equipment be capable of processing a National Periodic Test (NPT) event code for future nationwide EAS tests to bring consistency to the operation of EAS equipment in future national, regional, state and local activations.
- The requirement that EAS Participants file test data in an Electronic Test Report System (ETRS) that has been constructed to be a practical, accessible, and minimally burdensome tool for recording EAS dissemination data and developing an FCC Mapbook that can illustrate the manner in which an EAS alert is propagated throughout part or all of the United States.
- The requirement that EAS Participants comply with minimum accessibility rules, in order to ensure that EAS visual messages are readable and accessible to all members of the public, including people with disabilities.