What Was the ‘Presidential Alert’ All About?

The ‘Presidential Alert’ received across the country was part of a test to evaluate the readiness of federal emergency communication infrastructure.

by / October 3, 2018
Government Technology

At 2:18 p.m. EDT on Oct. 3, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent a nationwide alert through test the National Wireless Emergency Alert system.

The test will help officials evaluate the “operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed,” FEMA said in a statement.


The message read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed,” and it was accompanied by a loud tone and vibration. The test closely mimicked those sent out for AMBER alerts, although there was no way to opt out of the federal test. 

The system is designed to allow the federal government, specifically the president, to communicate directly with the public during a time of national emergency, dangerous weather events and other critical situations.