Emergency Broadcast System EBS Warning Public Announcement CC, CIA, CNN, NORAD Emergency Alert System EAS


This is a test

At the tone the time will be too late.

Established in 1963 by the US Federal Communications Commission, the EBS was designed to transmit messages on all broadcast stations (AM, FM and TV), giving the President a way to address the American people in the event of a national emergency. State and local agencies were also allowed to transmit emergency information via the EBS.

The EBS was retired in January 1998 and replaced with the new state-of-the-art Emergency Alert System (EAS). This new system provides access to broadcast stations, cable systems and participating satellite programmers for the transmission of emergency messages (and less obtrusive weekly tests). The EAS uses digital codes developed by the National Weather Service (NWS). NWS offices can originate coded messages that are area specific and will only activate EAS decoders and send emergency warnings to people in the affected geographic area.

Even if you aren't plugged in, the EAS provides the option to permit new specially equipped consumer products--TVs, radios, pagers, etc.--to "turn themselves on" to receive and deliver the emergency message. This reemergence of a centralized network strategy challenges the popular myth that the Internet is an anarchic, uncontrollable realm.

In the EAS one sees contradictory impulses in the US government in competition with each other. The difficulty of "reaching" all citizens with government messages was augmented by the Internet which US government funding helped to develop. Now, recognizing that software developers will not follow in lock-step with the desires of any particular government authority, instant access to the public must be achieved by altering electronics hardware.

Domestic security chief Tom Ridge said Tuesday (March 12, 2002) the nation is at a ``significant'' level of danger - the third step in a five-stage system of terror alerts that replaces the vague warnings issued for the last six months.
The color-coded system comes partly as a response to public complaints that four broad terror alerts issued by the government since the September terror attacks raised alarm without providing useful guidance. The new system will provide guidance to citizens, the private sector and public agencies on how to respond.
The lowest-status warning is green, followed by blue, yellow, orange and red as the perceived dangers intensify.
``I think you'll see us maintaining at the national level, at the 'significant' level - the yellow level - for the foreseeable future,'' Ridge said on CBS' ``The Early Show.'' At the same time, some areas could be at a higher stage of alert.
A statement released by his office outlined the stages of alert and how government agencies should respond:

  • Green is a low risk of terrorist attack.
  • Blue is a general risk, and agencies are asked to review and update emergency response procedures.
  • Yellow is an ``elevated condition,'' meaning there is a significant risk of attack. Increased surveillance of critical locations and implementing some emergency response plans are called for.
  • Orange signifies a high risk of attack, meaning the government should coordinate necessary security efforts with armed forces or law enforcement agencies and take additional precautions at public events.
  • Red means a ``severe risk'' of attack and may require the pre-positioning of specially trained teams, closing public and government facilities and monitoring transportation systems.
    The alert system is in force immediately for federal agencies, and Ridge is urging state and local governments to adopt it, too. It will be subject to a 45-day comment period, after which it probably will be revised.

  • May-31-2001