If you hear sirens and loudspeakers broadcasting a public announcement FRIDAY and you live in Hudson County, it may just be a test of the county's new Alert Nofication System.
The Hudson County Office of Emergency Management (HCOEM) scheduled tests Friday, May 15 from 9 a.m. until as late as 4 p.m. in various towns.
This system is designed to alert county residents and visitors in the event of a major natural or man made hazard that would require residents to take some sort of action. Eventually, the system will alert residents and visitors of the need to turn to emergency broadcast channels to receive specific instructions.
There are 31 Alert Notification units on poles and rooftops throughout the county.
Specific units will be activated to test the coverage within specific geographic areas. Tests will include these regions:
• Kearny, Harrison, East Newark
• Hoboken, North Bergen, Guttenberg, West New York, Weehawken, Union City
• Jersey City
While there will be one test for each of these areas, there is a certain amount of overlap for certain units. As a result residents may hear more than one activation sound in their neighborhood. For example, coverage in the Secaucus area relies in part on units located in North Bergen and Jersey City, which will be activated during the test of coverage in Secaucus.
The test of each area will consist of an announcement over the public address feature of the system followed by a tone activation of one to three minutes in duration. At the conclusion of the tone test for each area there will be a second announcement over the public address feature announcing the conclusion of the test.
The system is designed to emit a tone that is audible throughout all inhabited areas of the County.
As part of the overall system, the HCOEM has acquired and is in the process of activating an AM radio station to be used in conjunction with the Alert Notification System to broadcast information to the public advising them as to specific actions that should be taken based on the nature of the emergency.
In addition to the audible tone the Alert Notification System also has the capability to transmit live voice messages to provide instructions to the public following activation of the system. The range for the live messages is not as great as that for the audible tone but will serve heavily populated areas as well as areas where large numbers of the public may converge, such as major transportation hubs and large commercial areas.
The system, which was installed at a cost of approximately $750,000.00, was funded by a grant to the County of Hudson from the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security.
Following this initial test of the system, future monthly tests will be conducted using the “silent test” feature of the system so as to minimize disturbance to the public.