Personal emergency alerts from President Donald Trump are set to test on your smartphone next week, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system is already in use in the U.S.—smartphone users are likely familiar with the loud, droning tone of flood warnings or Amber alerts.
The new test will use the same tone to alert users of communication directly from the president in the case of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other events of significant national import. It will test on Sept. 20, FEMA representatives say.
According to FEMA, more than 100 mobile carriers will participate in the system, including major carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.
While some have expressed concerns about the system, given Trump’s unhinged communications on Twitter, the system won’t be used for political rhetoric, since the 2015 legislation that authorizes it explicitly states that the system cannot be used for anything other than alerting the public to major threats to public safety.
“This is a great idea and an amazing use of technology to reach everybody if they’re in harm’s way,” Karen North, the director of the Annenberg Digital Social Media program at the University of Southern California, told NBC News.
Furthermore, it could be an essential step in keeping Americans safe when many of us are tied to our phones.
The test will last for about 30 minutes, beginning at 2:18pm ET on Thursday. All mobile phones that are switched on and within the range of a cell tower should receive the message if their provider is participating in the test.
The message should read, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is required,” and should have a header that reads, “Presidential Alert.” If for some reason there’s interference with Thursday’s test, a backup is scheduled for Oct. 3.
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