'Presidential Alert' system moves into test phase

Photo: Matt Rourke/AP file Photo: Matt Rourke/AP file

(WAND) – An alert system could allow President Donald Trump to communicate with most Americans directly through their phones.

NBC News reports the Federal Emergency Management Agency is testing a warning system that will send “Presidential Alert” messages in the case of an emergency. Every major wireless firm and over 100 mobile carriers are taking part and users will not be able to opt out of receiving the alerts. The Warning, Alert and Response Network Act of 2006 does not allow the option.

Congress approved the alert system in 2015. The law only allows messages that relate to “a natural disaster, act of terrorism or other man-made disaster or threat to public safety”.

When the test happens at 1:18 p.m. central time on Sept. 20, people will hear a tone twice followed by a vibration and the message: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

UCLA communications professor Tim Groeling told NBC News he believes an alert system like this will be professional and impartial. He says it’s necessary in a world where people aren’t using mediums like television and radio as much, where alert messages have been sent in the past.

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