Montgomery County, Texas to Test WEA for First Time

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The FCC approved a waiver of its rules to allow Montgomery County, Texas to conduct a three-part Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) test — the first live WEA trial in the county.

The Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (MCOHSEM) told the Commission it needs to conduct the test so it’s prepared to warn residents of catastrophic incidents. The county is near Houston. During Hurricane Harvey, constituents in the county told MCOHSEM they did not receive alerts.

 That’s why the county doesn’t want to wait until the FCC rule changes to allow live WEA testing go into effect May 1. 

Given Montgomery County’s mix of rural and densely populated areas and the ongoing threat of hurricanes, wildfires, or man-made catastrophes in the region, the FCC finds the waiver is warranted. The agency believes the test would help educate and prepare the public, as well as assist emergency management officials understand the alert origination and dissemination capabilities of all participants at a crucial time.

The MCOHSEM WEA test on March 19, would consist of three closely timed test messages distributed to different targeted areas within the county. The first WEA message, issued at 10:15 a.m. CDT, targets the entire county. The subsequent WEA messages, issued at 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. CDT, target areas within the county that MCOHSEM has determined are rural and more densely populated, respectively.

To address concerns regarding alert fatigue, MCOHSEM said it understands the need to notify the public of the possibility of receiving multiple test messages in a short amount of time. MCOHSEM told the agency it will make sure to inform the public “that this testing will not become the norm, but is necessary to ensure their safety.”  Comments? Email Us.

February 12, 2019

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