Follow Up: FCC Summit on EAS

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Washington, DC - May 19, 2008 - The Federal Communications Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today hosted a Summit on Emergency Alert System (EAS). Called Promoting an Effective Emergency Alert System on the Road to a Next Generation EAS, the summit was designed to discuss the current state of the nation's EAS and what is needed to transition to a more robust, next-generation alert and warning system. The four-hour event included two panels with speakers with many varied interests in public warning.

The event was streamed online and will be posted for playback at the FCC's website.

Derek Poarch, the chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) led the summit. The first panel, moderated by Tom Beers, chief of the Policy Division PSHSB, discussed the current state of the nation's EAS initiative. Discussions focused on failure points within the system and ways to improve testing protocols. The second panel was moderated by William Lane, chief engineer of the PSHSB, and discussed new technologies, possible policies and protocols that should be implemented to ensure compatibility between Federal implementation of the Common Alert Protocol (CAP) architecture and state government operations.

Both panels provided a great deal of information and shed some insight on methods currently used in various cities, states and regions. The discussions were lively, as both moderators noted, and certainly will encourage additional discussion and idea exchange among the participants. An action item list for a follow-up was not presented, which could allow the process to become nothing more than an exercise to talk about the problem but not really provide any solutions or answers.

Many broadcast interests were represented at the meeting, and a significant focus of the summit was the role that broadcasters play in public warning. Various emergency management offices were represented as well.

Following the summit, several participating groups, including the SBE, the NAB, NASBA and FEMA, met to review the summit proceedings and discuss future plans for the effort. Part of this included a proposed plan of working groups to coordinate and address the various needs and issues. This working group proposal was submitted by the SBE. Read that proposal at this link.

According to notes posted by Richard Rudman on the SBE Roundtable e-mail list, the post-summit meeting attendees agreed to support a meeting in Chicago on July 10 where manufacturers would sign off on a CAP EAS profile they would all follow.

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