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Wireless emergency alerts: Be informed and prepared

At some point, most of us have received notifications sent to our mobile devices by law enforcement or emergency services — think Amber Alerts or last October’s Presidential Alert.

On Wednesday, March 27, at 11:00 a.m., the California Earthquake Early Warning Program (CEEWP) will be sending such a test to about 40,000 people in downtown Oakland to evaluate the effectiveness of wireless alert technology for early earthquake warnings.

All users with cellphones and related devices in the Oakland region will receive the test message. No response is required; however, researchers have invited you to test the system’s efficacy.

Oakland CEEWP test: Learn why it’s important and be a “citizen scientist”

Why does CEEWP need to conduct a test if other emergency services already use wireless alerts?
Unlike other emergency alerts, earthquake early warnings — AKA ShakeAlerts — are extremely time-sensitive. A few seconds could make a big difference in public safety. Researchers aren’t sure if the current wireless alert technology is sensitive enough for their needs, so this test is one way they’re trying to find out. 

What should I expect to happen during the test?
On Wednesday, March 27 at 11:00 a.m., all consumers with mobile phones and connected devices (i.e., smartwatches) in Downtown Oakland, specifically the Lakeside commercial neighborhood, will receive a test text message with the heading “Emergency Alert” and the following message: “Test of the CA Earthquake Warning System. No action required. This is a test.”

Can I opt out of the alert?
No, all cellular consumers will receive the message.

How can I help the researchers?
The CEEWP has asked many of its business partners, including UCOP — which is a member of the state advisory board — to help assess the effectiveness of the test. Here’s how:

  1. A few minutes before the alert (scheduled for March 27 at 11:00 a.m.), go to the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) website and select “play” to see official time. Double-check your time zone. It is essential to note time from this site to maintain consistency in reporting.
  2. When you receive the alert on your phone, note the exact time to the nearest second, per the website noted above. If you have multiple devices (like a phone and a smartwatch) that receive alerts at slightly different times, please record them all separately.
  3. Take a short survey to report on the time you received the alert, your phone provider and other important details. This survey data from citizen scientists will play a valuable role in evaluating the test’s success.

How can I learn more about the CEEWP and ShakeAlert test?
Visit CEEWP online. 

Prepare for emergencies with UCOPAlert

UCOP is committed to ensuring that all staff members are safe and informed in case of emergencies that affect the workplace. If an emergency takes place during business hours, you will be notified as soon as possible via your work email or phone. To ensure you’re abreast of breaking updates outside business hours, register for UCOPAlert, our off-hours emergency notification system.

Visit the Risk Services page to learn more about UCOPAlert. Once you’re ready to sign up, download the instructions and log into the registration site using your universal employee ID and password.

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