FCC Chairman Takes Lead From Bilirakis, Proposes Improvements to Emergency Alert System
WASHINGTON: The Wireless Emergency Alert Program is an effective communication tool used to raise community awareness of public safety emergencies, such as severe weather, a terrorist attack or endangered person. This week, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed new rules to strengthen the program, following a suggestion made by Congressman Gus Bilirakis during a May congressional hearing. Chairman Pai’s proposal would require wireless carriers participating in the Wireless Emergency Alert program to deliver alerts in a more geographically targeted manner. As suggested by Congressman Bilirakis, geographic targeting will give more specific information to those who need it, without unnecessarily alerting and confusing others. The messages people receive will be more directly applicable to a person’s immediate surroundings.
“As I indicated last spring, I truly believe that continuing to strengthen the program as new innovations and technology becomes available will have a tremendous impact on the program’s success. For example, this FCC action could result in real-time road closure notifications during a coastal evacuation or the alerting of people within a targeted range of a pending child abduction. By making the information more relevant to the target audience, we can significantly increase the effectiveness of this life-saving program. I am pleased to see the Chairman take this action, and I look forward to its consideration at the FCC,” said Congressman Bilirakis.
The importance of an effective and properly functioning emergency alert system was highlighted in such an alarming way last week in Hawaii. Congressman Bilirakis is demanding an immediate review of emergency alert message deployment to include safeguards that would prevent fraudulent or accidental mass messages. “We cannot have another false alarm, like we saw in Hawaii this weekend. Spreading unnecessary panic, especially without an immediate follow-up notification of the error, does not adhere to the public safety mission,” said Congressman Bilirakis.
To listen to Congressman Bilirakis’s comments during the congressional hearing, click here.