FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is now testing a new system that allow the United States President to send messages directly to U.S. cellphones.
All of the major wireless firms, along with more than 100 mobile carriers, are participating in the new Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program. It allows for presidential alerts that will come directly from President Trump.
“The EAS (Emergency Alert System) is a national public warning system that provides the president with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency,” FEMA said in a statement.
All compatible cell phones will soon receive a text message that reads: “Presidential Alert” and “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The EAS is used as well with radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers, the agency said.
The WEA system is already used to warn the public about missing children, dangerous weather and other vital information, FEMA said.
The national test of the presidential alerts, coming next week, will use the same tone and vibration associated with other WEA alerts such as tornado warnings or AMBER Alerts.
You can not opt out of receiving alerts if you are a cellphone user, in accordance with the 2006 Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act passed by Congress.
Experts told NBC News on Friday that President Trump would not overuse the “Presidential Alert” system, even though he is a frequent user of Twitter.
“If you separate this from the politics and personality of any individual president then this is a great idea and an amazing use of technology to reach everybody if they’re in harms way,” said Karen North, director of the Annenberg Digital Social Media program at the University of Southern California.
University of California Los Angeles communications professor Tim Groeling told the network that broadcast-based emergency alerts “have remained professional and impartial over decades.”
The first test of the presidential alert system will be on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 2:18 p.m. EDT.