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Emergency alert test sounds on mobile phones in North Texas, nationwide

05 October, 2018, 14:15 | Author: Arnold Gilbert
  • Wireless phone users can't block Trump administration 'Presidential Alert' test message

Cell towers will also only broadcast the alert for about 30 minutes, so if you're on the phone or out of range for a half hour after 2:18 p.m. ET, you might miss it.

That means today, more than ever, if you are attending a matinee, turn OFF your cell phone. The national WEA test will use the same special tone and vibration.

The National test message was sent to about 224 million devices and it worked in a similar way to systems that allow police and local authorities to send out Amber alerts and weather warnings.

All freaking out aside, the wireless alert system actually launched in 2012 when Barack Obama was president, so it's been around for a while.

The EAS test will be sent at 2:20 p.m.

"That's the whole point of conducting these tests, so we as the government can determine where the deficiencies are so we can go back and make improvements", said Mahoning County EMA Director Dennis O'Hara. The lawsuit said the alert system violates the First and Fourth Amendments by failing to give people the chance to opt-out.

The Department of Homeland Security posted a reminder about the test on Twitter on Tuesday, and reassured phone users that their numbers are not being shared with anyone.

FEMA said the WEA is used to alert the public about "dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cellphones".

So if there's no soundbite from the commander-in-chief, why call it a Presidential Alert?

GeekWire's Kurt Schlosser, right, and John Cook talk GeekWire Summit attendees through the arrival of a national test alert on their phones Wednesday.

When will I get the alert?

The presidential alert is created to let the White House inform the entire country nearly instantly of grave public emergencies, such as a terrorist attack or an invasion, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It will sound similar to the routine tests that flash across your television screen once a month. The presidential alerts provide direct communication between the White House and Americans in case of a national emergency, like a disaster or a terrorist attack.

Despite its name, the presidential alert was not issued by Trump directly.

As it says, this is only a test!

The judge asked a government lawyer if there were standards in place to prevent someone from using the system for political purposes. FEMA is now testing the various alert systems as part of that integration effort.

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