Panel Discusses Future of EAS (6/10/10)
Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Comments

The FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) National Continuity Programs (NCP) hosted a workshop on emergency alerting Thursday. Panelists from FEMA, the FCC and federal partners addressed the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), including the next-generation Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS).

The panel comes after the FCC sought comment on the Part 11 Rules governing the EAS pending adoption of the CAP by FEMA.

“The overarching policy of the FCC is to bring accurate and timely alerts,” said Gregory Cooke, associate chief of the policy division for the PSHSB. “As well as delivering tremendous amounts of information to the American people.”

Steve Johnson, president of Johnson Telecom and consultant to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), said he is looking forward to the evolution of the Common Alert Protocol (CAP), but “there is still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Johnson said. For instance, local and state governments will have to acquire new equipment or make modifications to current equipment.

Johnson also said that the allotted 180 days to roll out the systems is not enough time for agencies to go operational. “Time needs to be given as well to train operators,” he said.

Johnson wasn’t the only panelist concerned about the 180 days for rollout, but Cooke assured the group that the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) is aware of their concerns and will take them into consideration.

Panelists expressed interest in a pre-test that would take place before the national exercise that is scheduled for 2011. A pre-test would use lessons learned from Alaska’s statewide test of EAS in January.

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