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National Emergency Alert System Test Was a Complete Failure

At 2 pm yesterday, the National Emergency Alert System was put to the test with a message sent from the White House. The system is designed, in theory, to interrupt all television (cable and broadcast) and radio to alert all Americans of a crisis. It was created way back in 1963 to alert the nation of impending nuclear war. What? You didn’t see the test? Well, that’s not all together surprising, because it failed miserably.

Following the test, or lack thereof, Business Insider did a round-up of who seemed to have seen what and where, which uncovered quite a few outages, and some weird behavior. As far as anyone can tell, the test never managed to show up on cable television in New York City, despite coming on the radio where it probably managed to reach its audience of two. Where the test did go through, some DirecTV users claim that Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” was playing in the background and Comcast subscribers claim that the cable box quickly clicked over to QVC. No word on what either of those two things might mean.

After all the weirdness, FEMA has acknowledged that the whole thing was a mess. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman also seemed concerned, calling the weaknesses exposed during the test “unacceptable,” but also commending FEMA for carrying out the much-needed trial run. After all, this is exactly what tests are for.

FEMA’s tagline for the test had been “Don’t stress; it’s only a test,” which is suddenly a lot more stressful in hindsight. Should something serious have actually happened, the alert would have been very ineffective in notifying the public. But then again, it kind of makes you wonder if that really matters in this day and age. The system is nearly 50 years old and relies on forms of media that are increasingly antiquated. If a disaster had actually happened, we probably would have all heard about it on Twitter or something. Granted, there are people out there who aren’t completely wired into the Internet, so an alert system like this is probably still good to have, which is why FEMA is taking several weeks to evaluate the test and then will presumably fix it and try again. In the meantime, just make sure to stay active on your social networks if you want to keep abreast of any Apocalypse. And also any hot pop culture gossip.

(via Business Insider)

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