There is something like two weeks left until the deadline for installing CAP compliant EAS equipment. No, this time they really mean it!
I have installed a few of the new SAGE ENDEC boxes at various clients. They do have one common problem; audio input levels. The newer blue faced SAGE units are much more sensitive than the older units. The existing audio input levels connected to older EAS units need to be adjusted downward nearly 100% of the time. SAGE Alerting Systems has a bulletin about it: SAGE Alerting Systems Audio Levels.
The FCC reverses it’s former position on EAS text to speech, permitting stations to begin using it today (May 7, 2012). The FCC’s main issue with Text To Speech (TTS) was that it may not render the text accurately enough to be understood, especially in emergencies. This can lead to confusing messages and defeat the purpose of EAS altogether.
I have played around with some text to speech software and indeed it can mangle words, mispronounce punctuation as a part of the sentence structure, mumble, etc. Further, as I have said before, listening to some robo voice is very impersonal. But, I suppose that is the point, isn’t it; some big government agency computers generating messages that no one person is really responsible for. Bureaucratic paradise.
November 9, 2011 at 2pm EST, FEMA will be testing EAS with it’s first ever national level test. To promote that event, they have released a twenty eight page “tool kit,” (near the bottom of the page) designed to help everyone get through the test. It should be interesting. According to FEMA:
The nationwide EAS Test is not a pass or fail measure, nor will it specifically test Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) compliant equipment (although CAP compliant equipment should pass the Emergency Action Notification [EAN] live-code in the same manner as legacy EAS equipment).
They will release a Emergency Action Notification (EAN) to all the Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations, which should then flow down stream through all the radio, television, cable systems, and direct broadcast satellite systems. The test should last about two minutes and will conclude with a standard EOM.
I doubt very much it will sound like this:
That is WHEN, Syracuse, NY singing EBS test. A bit of originality there. WHEN played this for their weekly EBS test for the better part of the 70’s. Naturally, the FCC found out about it and told them to stop. Shame, really, it is kind of catchy.
If you have some spare time, download the tool kit and study up for the test.