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It's only a test: Shouldn't today's first-ever nationwide Emergency Alert System test include online?



2011nationwidetest-325x430.jpegWhen the FCC takes over every television and radio station at 2 p.m. today for the first nationwide test of its emergency broadcast system, an important part of the country's communication apparatus may be left out: the Internet.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will test its 17-year-old Emergency Alert System by broadcasting a 30-second message today.

Officials warn that the graphic images on TV may not immediately look like a test, but that the audio will make clear this is a special shakedown cruise for the system. The midday scheduling of the test may also be calibrated to make it less likely citizens will mistake it for an actual emergency.

Unfortunately, the test won't go out on a platform many Americans are tethered to during work hours; the Internet. Leaves you wondering whether a broadcast system devised back when the Internet was still struggling to incorporate the graphics of the World Wide Web is adequate to spread emergency news in a world of text messaging, Twitter posts and Facebook updates.

The truth is, given my recent experiences with breaking news online, news of any emergency requiring a nationwide EAS alert probably will break on Twitter first.

Which makes you wonder if the EAS is even necessary in the first place.

Have a happy EAS evaluation day -- and remember, it's only a test.


[Last modified: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 12:09pm]


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