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National Wireless Emergency Alert System Set to Test Sept. 20

15 September 2018

It's only a test.

Your mobile phone will emit a special tone and vibrate as it receives an emergency test message on September 20.

The test is meant to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster.

We don't actually know if the president will send the text himself, but it will have a headline that says "Presidential Alert".

The WEA test will be sent through IPAWS, as part of the nation's modern alert and warning infrastructure that automatically authenticates alerts.

Congress approved the alert system in 2015.

"During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message", FEMA said.

"If you separate this from the politics and personality of any individual president, then this is a great idea and an incredible use of technology to reach everybody if they're in harms way", Karen North, director of the Annenberg Digital Social Media program at the University of Southern California, told NBC.

The Wireless Emergency Alert system message test is being carried out by FEMA in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, FEMA said in a statement posted on its website Thursday. You should hear the same special tone and your phone should vibrate. "No action is needed".

Presidential alerts will only be sent out if there is a national emergency that is not extreme weather or Amber Alerts. Users can't opt out of the WEA test, according to FEMA.

The system is the latest generation of warnings at a time when more people are typically linked at any one time to their cell phones than radios or TVs. Under the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act of 2006, cellphone users can not opt out of the presidential alerts.

In its news release, FEMA said it could postpone the national test to October 3 if the agency is dealing with a major weather event, but it have yet to make that determination.

National Wireless Emergency Alert System Set to Test Sept. 20