Digital Alert Systems, the global leader in emergency communications solutions for media providers, today announced guidance ahead of the next National Periodic Test (NPT) of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), scheduled for Aug. 11 at 2:20 p.m. EDT. All broadcast and cable operators must participate in the test, which is conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Digital Alert Systems' preparation document is available to all here.
The NPT is an occasion to perform essential checks on fundamental items, such as checking that the EAS equipment is operating, backup power is functional, the radio monitors are tuned and monitoring the appropriate sources from the state EAS plan, and the equipment's software is updated.
"If the EAS participant's DASDEC has been maintained with up-to-date software, most steps to prepare for the national test are already taken care of," said Bill Robertson, vice president of business development at Digital Alert Systems. "All DASDEC software from version 3.0 onward will automatically and properly process the NPT code, using the six-zeros national-location code, by immediately forwarding the test alert in compliance with the FCC's rules."
"If your DASDEC is operating a software version earlier than version 3.0, you must update your software for the NPT to operate as intended," Robertson continued. "DASDEC users should double-check to ensure they are at least operating version 3.0, though I strongly recommended moving to the current version of software, which is V4.3, for a host of security and operational purposes."
Proper equipment configuration is important, especially when it comes to the system clock. Participants should confirm their devices are synced to the right time and time zone. One way is to double-check if the device is properly synchronized to a network time source. If a DASDEC is not connected to a Network Time Protocol (NTP) server, then it is important for the user to ensure that the unit time is manually synchronized to an official time source.
In its recent notice, the FCC took the occasion to remind EAS participants that they should be "upgrading EAS equipment software and firmware to the most recent version." The commission noted that an "EAS participant's failure to receive or transmit an EAS message during a national test or an actual emergency because of an equipment failure may subject the EAS participant to enforcement action," referring back to an EAS Enforcement Advisory from January 2021.
An important part of the test procedure is the submission of the required forms through the FCC's EAS Test Reporting System site (ETRS). Form One, which covers EAS equipment status, is due by July 6. Form Two, which will track how the system performs on the day of the test, is due by Aug. 12. Finally, Form Three, which covers additional detail on any test issues or failures, is due by Sept. 27.
The 2021 test will again be disseminated via the EAS broadcast-based Primary Entry Point (PEP) system and not the internet-based FEMA IPAWS CAP message system. The results will help FEMA and the FCC further assess how the national EAS would function should a national emergency occur when the internet and other forms of communication are unavailable. If conditions on the day of the test require it, the test will be rescheduled to Aug. 25.
More information about Digital Alert Systems is available at www.digitalalertsystems.com.