FCC releases emergency-preparedness report
The FCC will take several steps designed to improve its ability to respond during large-scale emergencies, the commission said in a report released today.
Entitled“FCC’s Preparedness for a Major Public Emergency,” the report was prepared by the FCC’s public-safety and homeland security bureau (PSHSB), which conducted a 30-day state-of-readiness review launched by Chairman Julius Genachowski. The report does not address big-picture issues such as 700 MHz broadband, PSHSB spokesman Rob Kenny said.
“This is not a policy report,” Kenny said. “This is more of an operational and preparedness report.”
Genachowski said the report concluded that the FCC is prepared to respond to emergencies, but more work needs to be done.
“The public-safety challenges we face are ongoing, dynamic, and growing,” Genachowski said in a prepared statement. “Today’s report outlines concrete steps the FCC can and will take to better support public-safety communications and protect our nation.”
One key point noted in the report is the need for greater outreach and collaboration between the FCC and other federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), each of which was represented during a press conference this morning about the report. In addition, the FCC will initiate a pilot program this month in which a senior emergency coordinator will be sent to the Gulf Coast region.
Other points of emphasis in the report include cybersecurity, training and education within the FCC, and the need for emergency operations and alerts that are designed to ensure that the FCC maintains continuous operations and is able to deliver timely information to the public during an emergency.
PSHSB Chief Jamie Barnett said the last item is particularly timely, because a serious H1N1 outbreak is expected during the upcoming flu season. DHS estimates that 40% of the nation’s work force could be absent from their jobs during a severe influenza pandemic.