Alerts & Notifications

Congressman Encourages Fortified Effort to Educate Congress on Alerting Issues

Congressman Andre Carson of the subcommittee that oversees FEMA says public safety practitioners have no better opening than now to educate Congress on alerting issues.

by Rick Wimberly / December 1, 2015

The ranking member of the House sub-committee that oversees FEMA has encouraged public safety practitioners to launch a “fortified effort” to educate Capitol Hill on alerting issues.  Representative Andre’ Carson (D-IN) says public safety practitioners concerned about alerting have “no better opening than you have now” to get attention of Congress.  Specific issues on his mind, as he addressed the recent Smart Spectrum Summit which focused on alerting:   

  • Continued expansion and modernization of IPAWS “to incorporate evolving innovations that allow us to better warn citizens of impending disasters.”  IPAWS advancement legislation has been approved by the Senate (S.1180).  Two IPAWS bills (H.R. 1738 and H.R. 1472) are before the House.
  • Wise use of broadcast and broadband spectrum including assurance that “adequate and robust spectrum space is available for emergency management and other public purposes.”
  • Activation of FM chips on mobile devices.  Carson commended AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint for activating the chips on devices they sell, saying “perhaps the chip can be used to deliver longer, more robust messages to the American people in a time of crisis.”  Not all carriers have activated the chips.
  • Support for FCC plans to consider expansion of the amount and type of information made available on wireless devices through Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).  See post here.
  • Possibility of using the Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN) to integrate into IPAWS.  As post here explains, AWARN is a proposed new method for delivering alerts through TV signals using a new HDTV standard.

During his speech, Congressman Carson said deficiencies remain in alerting that he thinks must be addressed, namely effectively reaching elderly, disabled and non-English speaking individuals.  He said, “There were too many horror stories after Hurricane Katrina and Sandy about the difficulties experienced by the disabled and the elderly, and I believe we can and must do better.”

Carson said public safety practitioners are in a good position to get Congressional attention by tying alerting issues to public safety, thus avoiding esoterics and abstracts.  If the fortified effort is followed through, Carson said we could see a “turnaround” by Congress.

We think Congressman Carson is right.  There are major alerting issues swirling around.  In fact, we may be reaching a new “age of alerting.”  Congress will be involved.  Do we want them to act on alerting issues without hearing a strong public safety voice?