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FCC Grants Waiver to the City and County of Denver to Test the Wireless Emergency Alert System

 On Wednesday, September 5th, between 11:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., the City and County of Denver will issue a test message through the Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA). This system allows government and public safety officials to send critical information to an individual’s cell phone or other mobile device during an emergency. 

The WEA system is the most effective and geographically precise tool for reaching the largest number of individuals in a designated warning area, while minimizing the amount of overreach

The September 5th alert will be the first live WEA test by the City and County of Denver and is expected to reach approximately one million residents, workers, and visitors in the test area. The test area will include the entire City and County of Denver, including Denver International Airport. Please note that there is a chance that those located just outside the City and County of Denver border may also receive the WEA test depending on the location of their phone provider’s cellular towers. The September 5th test message will read, “This is a test of the Wireless Emergency Alert System for Denver, CO. This is only a test.”  If a real-world situation coincides with the planned WEA test on Wednesday, September 5, the backup test date is Thursday, September 13, between 11:00am and 11:30am. 

When the alert is received on the user’s mobile device, it will trigger a loud noise and cause the device to vibrate. Both the full audio signal and vibration will be repeated twice while displaying the text message on the cell phone’s display. 

The Federal Communications Commission launched the WEA system nationally in 2012. Since 2012, more than 33,000 alerts have been sent to cell phones across the country to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children (AMBER Alerts), and other critical situations. 

While most newer phones are WEA-enabled, older “flip phones” might not be. The public does not sign up or register for WEA, and there is no fee for the service. Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems helps government officials assess the system and identify needed improvements. Public safety officials need to have reliable methods to warn the public in times of disaster and they need dependable systems that can quickly deliver these alerts and warnings to the public. Conducting regional tests as the one on September 5th helps support the continued use, training, and improvement of the WEA system. 

 

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For additional information on the on preparing for an emergency, please refer to Ready.gov. For more information, please contact the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management on the phone at (720) 865-7600 or via web Denvergov.org/OEM. For breaking news follows us on Twitter @DenverOEM