Read the Wireless RERC research brief, Observations of the 2016 National EAS Test

December 2016 – The Wireless RERC completed a study observing the 2016 nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and released a research brief outlining findings and recommendations. EAS is a national warning system in the United States established in 1997 by the FCC to alert the public of local weather emergencies as well as national security incidents. The most recent National EAS Test was conducted on September 28, 2016. Before this test, the FCC provided key recommendations and technical requirements to broadcasters based on the first national EAS test in November 2011.
In 2011, the Wireless RERC conducted focus groups and surveys regarding the accessibility of the first nationwide test to set a baseline for comparing EAS with Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). The findings from our study concluded that inconsistent implementation of EAS rules rendered the test not reliably accessible to people with visual and/or hearing difficulties. Therefore, during the most recent nationwide EAS test on September 28, 2016, we observed the test in its standard format to assess if issues that were present in the 2011 test were remedied in the 2016 test. Based on our sample of television and radio tests, we concluded that the 2016 National EAS test revealed technical and compliance-related challenges that affect accessibility. In a subsequent report by the FCC, Initial Findings Regarding the 2016 Nationwide EAS Test [15-94], they mirrored some of our annotations concerning the quality of the audio, accessibility of text, and the provision of Spanish-language alert messages. This report summarizes the findings.[PDF]