New alert system could show up on your cell phone

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - We hear them on the television and the radio, now we will hear them on our phones. Whether we are watching our favorite TV show or jamming out to the newest song, it's a noise that grabs our attention.

The Emergency Alert System test itself isn't new, but on September 20 we will be hearing the familiar sound emitting from our cellphones. It's called the Wireless Emergency Alert and most phones are set to receive it. But there will also be a survey that Alaskans are encouraged to participate in on the day of the alert.

Jeremy Zidek, with the Alaska Division of Homeland Security, says the survey will allow the division to know how many people the alert reaches.

"Alaska is different. We have the most modern technology working alongside legacy systems, and then we have a vast geographic area to send these signals over. So, the way it performs in the lower 48 may not be the way it performs here in Alaska, and that is why we are conducting this survey to determine the reach of these wireless emergency alert systems," he said.

Zidek says there is no way to opt out of national alerts. He adds everyone is encouraged to fill out the survey, especially those who do not receive them. Zidek explains what the public can expect with this test.

"There is going to be a tone at 10:18 on September 20, your phone will emit a tone that will be followed by a message. This is the first time that these national wireless emergency alert test codes are being used, and so it is important for us to understand how they work in Alaska," he said.

Zidek reiterates this is just a test of the systems and not cause for alarm.

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