Wednesday, September 14, 2005

N.E.A.R. weirder than CONELRAD.

NATIONAL EMERGENCY ALARM REPEATER (NEAR) SYSTEM: United States. 1962. The National Emergency Alarm Repeater was designed to provide near instantaneous warning of nuclear attack to members of the public who were indoors at the time the warning was issued. The system, when activated, transmitted a signal over electric utility lines to receivers plugged into standard 110 volt receptacles. The unit was about 3.5 inches square. It emitted what was described as a "loud, annoying buzzing sound" that could be easily heard over normal indoor noise levels.

The system was intended as a supplement to sirens to provide warning coverage for 96 percent of the population in homes, offices, factories, schools, and in rural areas where installation of outdoor warning systems would have been too expensive. The engineering test phase for the National Emergency Alarm Repeater started in October 1962 with the installation of a converter on the Arizona Public Service Company system in Phoenix, Arizona.

As silly as EAS is somtimes, and as awkward as EBS was, remember that CONELRAD was ridiculous and that we actually considered N.E.A.R. By comparison the system almost seems workable now. This is one case where I can say that the government actually has improved something... and it only took what? four decades?