FCC and Thurston County will join 42 state and local government agencies to test wireless emergency alert system

Submitted by Thurston County

JHurston County has been accepted as one of 42 state and local government agencies to work with the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, to evaluate the geographic accuracy of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) in areas of the country. Testing in Thurston County is scheduled for Monday, September 12, 2022.

Thurston County Emergency Management is accepting volunteers to help administer the test and collect data. Please contact Sonya Kroese at [email protected] by Thursday, September 8, if you are interested in volunteering.

“Wireless emergency alerts are a life-saving tool, but emergency officials tell us they need more information about the geographic accuracy of these alerts in order to use them with confidence,” said said FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Put simply, public safety officials want to know that alerts will reliably reach the public in all targeted areas, but not beyond, in the event of an emergency. These local tests, which are the latest in a recent series of FCC efforts to strengthen wireless emergency alerts, will provide stakeholders with greater insight into alert performance so that this tool can be used to its fullest potential. potential to help keep communities safe.

Alerts are sent through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System

(IPAWS) to participating wireless service providers. Wireless service providers then forward the alerts to compatible mobile devices in the affected area. Participation by wireless service providers is voluntary but widespread.

Participating wireless service providers must send alerts within the area specified by the alert sender with a maximum overrun of 1/10 of a mile, where technically possible. According to industry estimates, around 60% of active smartphones in the United States support this “enhanced location targeting” feature, with that number increasing as consumers replace their devices with newer models.

“In addition to our local alert system – Thurston Community Alert – we use WEA alerts to reach as many people as possible in the event of an emergency,” said Ben Miller-Todd, acting director of emergency services. “This test with the FCC as a partner will help us ensure that we are ready to provide information to people when the next disaster occurs.”