The presidential alert test was part of an effort to establish a reliable emergency system.
Across the nation, cellphones buzzed as the Federal Management Agency conducted its first-ever system that sent presidential alerts to a majority of United States citizens.
“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System,” the text read. “No action is needed.”
With this alert, mobile devices can receive warnings about immediate danger, no app download required. Only three types of alerts can be sent to all cellphones: AMBER alerts, incoming dangerous weather and national emergency alerts. The message will include the type of alert, what action is necessary and which agency reports it. The system cannot be used for personal messages from a president. While it is possible to withdraw from receiving alerts on missing children and weather conditions, users cannot turn off presidential alerts.
FEMA officials estimated 75 percent of mobile phones in the country would receive the alert. If a device did not receive an alert, “active data sessions” could have interfered with receiving the message. A device that was turned off,out of range or was in the midst of an ongoing phone call may have also caused the lack of an alert.
In recent months, emergency alerts have been criticized. Earlier this year, Hawaii aroused panic as the state sent a false alert warning of an incoming missile. Meanwhile, officials located in Northern California received scrutiny for not sending more alerts during the wildfires.
John Lawson, executive director of the Advanced Warning and Response Network, said current national alerting systems are “fragile and fragmented” and that testing them is crucial for strengthening them.
FEMA asks for feedback regarding the test’s effectiveness. They suggest those who did not receive an alert to email them at FEMA-National-Test@fema.dhs.gov.