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2010 EAS Summit Reveals Encouraging Progress on EAS Transition to CAP
Issues raised in panels comprised of the EAS attendees often focused on the need for funding and training, both for emergency managers and broadcasters. Some states, such as Washington, have identified federal funds for EAS use, where the state emergency management agency is furnishing EAS CAP units to 220 broadcast stations. FEMA volunteered that it is actively working on both funding and training. The IPAWS office is currently coordinating with other FEMA divisions to examine existing federal grant programs, with the intent of adding specific IPAWS alert and warning language. It is also working with the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) to design EAS CAP and emergency alerting practices training. FEMA mentioned it will shortly be increasing its staff of seven to the full complement of 11 staffers, enabling it to concentrate more heavily on all its projects.
Reports were also given from other EAS partners. The NAB is having regular meetings with the FCC and the FEMA IPAWS office. The NAB's valiant efforts to get FM radio into cell phone handsets continues to produce results, as more and more handsets are offering this immediate, live link to emergency information. It was good to see the EAS-CAP Industry Group (ECIG) acknowledged as an EAS stakeholder partner with a short presentation on their group of 10 EAS/CAP hardware and software vendors, and the contributions ECIG is making to the EAS CAP effort, such as the aforementioned Implementation Guide. Ann Arnold, president of the Texas Association of Broadcasters (TAB), distributed copies of a recent EAS survey coordinated by the TAB and completed by EAS committee members from 54 states and territories. The results can be found on the TAB website.
All in all, it seems from the Summit that FCC and FEMA are working well with each other, with their federal partners, and with the appropriate EAS stakeholder groups in order to design and implement a fully functional and vastly improved CAP-based EAS.
Timm is a broadcast engineer with Journal Broadcast Group-Milwaukee and broadcast chair of the Wisconsin EAS Committee.
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