FCC OKs CO WEA Test

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Gunnison County, Colorado received FCC permission to test Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). The test is slated for 2 p.m. Mountain Time on September 26. 

The Gunnison County Office of Emergency Management, in coordination with the Gunnison – Hinsdale Emergency Telephone Service Authority and the Gunnison Regional Communications Center, will conduct the test. 

The county is susceptible to wildfires and flash flooding and county emergency management officials told the Commission they want a, “clear understanding of how alerts would perform” in their mountainous area.  

Gunnison County also has a large number of tourists year-round, who most likely would not have subscribed to the county’s emergency alert system. WEA might be the only system that could reach them, especially in large crowds at special events, according to county emergency management officials. The WEA test message to be delivered to mobile devices is: “Gunnison County OEM: TEST emergency msg. Feed-back to [email protected] TEST only.” 

The county needed a waiver of FCC rules because current WEA regulations don’t permit end-to-end tests to the public to assess how WEA is working within their jurisdictions. The rules allowing such tests became effective on May 1. But the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency administers the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System infrastructure through which all alerts are authenticated, validated, and delivered to carriers. FEMA told the FCC that IPAWS will not be ready to support additional features, including state/local WEA tests, pending further necessary technical changes.

September 17, 2019            

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