Moments after the alert went off at 2:18 p.m. many reported they didn’t get the alert and some were curious why.
“Presidential Alert,” the screen said. “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
It’s the first nationwide test of the system built by the federal government and cell phone carriers to warn Americans of an emergency, like a terror attack or a widespread disaster.
FEMA reported that people wouldn’t be able to turn off this presidential alert.
If you’re an iPhone user and your phone was on silent or do not disturb you probably didn’t hear the alert. People with their phones on silent still saw the alert message on their screens. The people with their phones on do not disturb got the alert once their phone is off that mode.
So we asked FEMA why some people didn’t get the alerts.
This is what a spokesman for the agency said:
The national EAS and WEA test messages were successfully originated and disseminated through FEMA’s IPAWS to the wireless provider gateways and EAS message servers. All wireless provider gateways acknowledged receipt of the test message.
Additional results from EAS participant station reception and broadcast of the national test message will be collected over the next month and reported later and compared against previous test results.
FEMA is committed to continuously improving the national alert and warning systems and supporting local authorities in getting effective and timely warning to people.
Only WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA will be capable of receiving the test message. Additionally, if a user is on a call, or with an active data session open on their phone, they might not have received the message.
If you still believe you were near a tower and didn’t get the alert or if you want to provide feedback, FEMA wants to hear from you.
FEMA invites the public to send comments on the nationwide EAS-WEA test to FEMA-National-Test@fema.dhs.gov. Valuable information on the effectiveness of a national WEA capability using the Presidential alert category includes:
- Whether your mobile device displayed one, more or no WEA test messages;
- The make, model and operating system version of your mobile device;
- Your wireless service provider;
- Whether the device was turned on and in the same location for at least 30 minutes after the start of the test (2:18 p.m. ET);
- The location of the device (as precise as possible), including the device’s environment (e.g. indoors or outdoors, rural or urban, mobile or stationary);
- Whether you are normally able to make calls, receive texts, or use apps at that location;
- Whether the mobile device was in use at the time of the alert (for a call or a data session); and
- Whether anyone else at your location received the WEA test alert message.