Technology Spotlight: FEMA Presidential Alert, what is it?

Akif Abidi, Staff Writer

Shriya Vanparia


On Wednesday afternoon around 1 p.m, locally,  hundreds of millions of phones around the nation rung in unison, reading “Presidential Alert, THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”


It is hard to find a smartphone-less person in today’s time. So having an instant alert system for citizens’ smartphones in case of an emergency seems like a reasonable decision


The initiative was put into action by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) of Homeland Security.  A system similar to the Amber Alerts, the Presidential Alerts system has been in the works since President George W. Bush’s time in office. And though its name suggests otherwise, the alert doesn’t come straight from the president, but rather by FEMA officials along with numerous other government agencies in the White House.


Like Amber alerts, the Presidential alerts will go off in the cases of local and nation emergency, ranging from natural disasters to local crimes.


“The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones,” FEMA’s post on the its website states. “The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. tornado warning, Amber alert).”


Though it was meant for all phones in America, some did not receive the alert. Many took to social media sites, such as Twitter, to complain that their phone did not receive the message, and soon after, FEMA stated that though they do not know what caused the issue, they will soon find the flaw in the system.