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Is it a test next Wednesday, or the real thing?

By Birket Foster
MB Foster Associates

Remember growing up where a test of the emergency alert system would periodically come on the radio with a piercing noise, and inform you that this was just a test, and in the case of a real emergency further instructions will follow? It's coming back, sooner than you think. We expect to hear it just minutes before our next webinar.

CivilDefenseFor the first time ever, the FCC and FEMA are conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). It will happen at 2 pm Eastern on Wednesday, November 9 -- just 2 days before binary day (you know, 111111, or November 11, '11).

Will our children even know what this is about, as they get home from school and have their favorite TV show interrupted by an emergency signal? Will housewives everywhere worry about the “national emergency” that will appear to be happening? Maybe it will have the same impact on society as the radio play of HG Wells  “The War of the Worlds,” a timeless science fiction classic of the invasion of earth by Martians.

Our live demonstration of MBF Scheduler, and the recently announced enhancements of HIPRI, RUNNOW and Subqueues, will take 45 minutes -- but during the first two minutes we will see how the world reacts to EAS, and then carry on from there.

Wikipedia reports that the EAS is a national warning system in the United States put into place on January 1, 1997, when it superseded the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), which itself had superseded the CONELRAD System.

In addition to alerting the public of local weather emergencies such as tornadoes and flash floods, the official EAS is designed to enable the President of the United States to speak to the United States within 10 minutes, but the nationwide federal EAS has never been activated. The EAS regulations and standards are governed by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC. Each state and several territories have their own EAS plan. EAS has become part of IPAWS, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, a program of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). EAS is jointly coordinated by FEMA, the FCC, and the National Weather Service.

So next week for two minutes the airwaves of America (which are broadcast by satellite around the planet) there will be a two-minute alert where the president or at least the White House will interrupt the day for 2 minutes to prove that in the case of the a national emergency you could hear the President – it would just be text and a voice over – no pictures … maybe the lowest common denominator isn’t the best way to go but all radio and TV will be part of the test.

How will you business handle this – are you forewarning people that this test is coming up … At MBFoster we have a webinar scheduled for November 9 at 2pm … it will be about Automating Windows Processes (using MBF Scheduler) … it won’t be a test – it will be the real thing J complete with demonstration … it will take 45 minutes but during the first 2 minutes we will see what the world reaction to the of the EAS is and then carry on from there.