Presidential Alert: Communicating an emergency

Presidential Alert
Presidential Alert

This week in the US saw the testing of a ‘Presidential Alert’ – millions of Americans were sent a notification to their mobile phones to test to simulate a real message from the president in a national emergency.

At 2:18pm ET, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began sending the alert, saying: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” A few minutes later, televisions and radio broadcasts suspended their programming and ran a similar message.

This was the first time the government has conducted a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system, according to FEMA.

These alerts are designed to be used in national emergencies and, unlike other notifications, can’t be opted out of. This has caused some to express concern that the system could be abused for political reasons. Others worry that the system could be hacked.

The nationwide event is being run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), which would also be in direct control of the system if a real alert was ordered by the US President, Donald Trump.

It is intended to be used to warn of major threats, including:

  • missile attacks
  • acts of terrorism
  • natural disasters

Push notifications are already being used internally by organisations to communicate news and emergencies. For non-desk employees – an alert on a phone is a great way to communicate company-wide news or crisis.


As digital communications become more advanced – mass communication is becoming easier. Learn more about communicating with staff on the go at this year’s #smilelondon on 12 Nov.