Thurston County among 42 state government agencies is testing wireless emergency alert systems

Sept. 2 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will conduct a test of its wireless emergency alerts Sept. 12 in Thurston County, according to a county news release.

Testing is underway to assess and improve the geographic accuracy of wireless emergency alerts. Thurston County is one of 42 local government agencies participating in testing.

Thurston County officials are currently looking for volunteers to help with the testing and collect data. Anyone interested in participating can email Thurston County Emergency Management Coordinator Sonya Kroese at [email protected] for more information. The deadline to volunteer to help with the test is September 8.

“Wireless emergency alerts are a life-saving tool, but emergency officials tell us they need more information about the geographic accuracy of these alerts in order to use them with confidence,” said said FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel in the Thurston County news release.

Public safety officials want to ensure that when they send out a wireless emergency alert, it only goes to those in the target area and not to anyone beyond. of the.

When a wireless emergency alert is issued, it goes through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, where participating cellphone service providers transmit the alert to compatible phones in the affected area. .

The participation of mobile service providers in this program is not mandatory, but is widespread throughout the industry. Participating providers are required to receive wireless emergency alerts within the specified area in the event of an emergency without going more than one-tenth of a mile beyond that area.

This is accomplished by using enhanced geo-targeting functionality, which around 60% of active smartphones in the country have according to industry estimates.

Thurston County uses wireless emergency alerts along with its own Thurston Community Alert System to reach as many people as possible in an emergency.

“This test with the FCC as a partner will help us ensure that we are ready to provide information to people in the next disaster,” said Thurston County Emergency Services Acting Director Ben Miller. -Todd, in a statement.

Ashley C. Reynolds