I have written an online petition to Congress and the Exec. Branch to follow up on the Partnership for Public Warning Report, ”A National Strategy for Integrated Public Warning and Capability” that can be viewed at: www.partnershipforpublicwarning.org/ppw/docs/nationalstrategy.pdf
If you think that it is time for action on this now ten-year-old report, you can go to http://tinyurl.com/EPI-strategy, read the petition and sign it if you agree.
Core Member, Broadcast Warning Working Group
An open letter to the National Weather Service (NWS) posted on the EAS Forum talks about a string of bad Southern California weather that resulted in NWS EAS “message flooding” during the past two weeks. There is some reason to believe we could be heading towards a mass rejection of NWS EAS by EAS participants as a result. You can read the entire open letter on the Forum, but here is the gist of it.
I just posted a new article on the EAS Forum website entitled, “What’s New with EAS: Waiting for One More Shoe to Drop”. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is going to review progress on EAS warnings, focusing on the national live code EAN test last Fall.
This word from the FCC who released a public notice on August 17 stating that the FCC is going to “share” results of the national EAS test with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that might have implications down the road for what Part 11 says.
Since the FCC’s formal test report and an “un-redacted” GAO report are not scheduled to go public, the only metric we may see will be changes to Part 11. This is all speculation on my part at this time, but speculating is all we can do until we see the final version of the current Part 11 re-write.
Core Member, the Broadcast Warning Working Group
An update to the Broadcast Warning Working Group sample SECC plan is now available here and on the EAS Forum website. This version expands statements in Section 2 on changes to EAS, includes a FEMA graphic on IPAWS OPEN, more fully describes the structure, oprations and responsibilities of the SECC, and fixes some formatting problems. There are ideas and sections in this sample plan that may be useful to local EAS committees (LECC’s) for their plan re-writes.
From previous post: The Broadcast Warning Working Group held an SECC plan writing workshop during the recent NAB Convention. The goal was to come up with a sample state plan with elements that take revisions we know about so far to Part 11 into account. The plan, in Microsoft Word .doc format is posted here for download.
As most of you know now, the FCC today overturned their prohibition announced in their EAS Fifth Report and Order on the use of CAP EAS Text To Speech (TTS). The FCC’s decision today proves that the EAS user community along with FEMA succeeded in making a strong case for this reversal. The text of the relevant part of this decision is posted now on the EAS Forum website along with observations of how and why the reversal came about, and why it happened a lot faster than some observers had predicted.
BWWG Core Member & California EAS SECC Vice Chair
Thanks to BWWG core member Adrienne Abbott (SECC, Nevada) for sending me her notes on the meeting yesterday held during NAB Week to supplement my notes that can be found at [ http://eas.radiolists.net/ ]. Many thanks to NAB for getting us a room to meet in on very short notice.
I took the liberty of adding to what Adrienne gave me within ( ) in the following:
- New/rewritten state and local plans are needed to (clearly) define roles and procedures for the use of CAP (within EAS, and to implement changes in FCC Part 11).
- What are some Best Practices that can/should be part of the new procedures (that we need to get out to state and local committees, and warning centers)?
- Who signs off on new plans?
- State and local agencies need to be involved in plan writing and to develop (better) trust in broadcasters and EAS.
- (FEMA online training module) IS 247 is a prerequisite for activators to use CAP, broadcasters should take it also. The course is not perfect yet. It would be good to see how well the CAP system handles the messages IS-247 students write.
- Manny Centeno notes that with the new CAP technology the new EAS plans should be part of procedures at EOC’s and dispatch centers so messages can be sent easily and quickly.
- Bill Ruck told the group that he has found police and fire chiefs and other public safety officials are concerned about the cost of training First Responders on CAP EAS.
- Manny responded suggested that he has information on grants and language for grant writing that he can email information to anyone who needs it. He also suggested that requests for grant funding include money for training and meetings with emergency officials. He also suggested that Provisions be made to educate the public on EAS and other warning messages so they know what’s going on, what to do and what to expect.
- Richard reminded everyone that CAP EAS is not just for origination of EAS messages and that there is room now for different levels of messages and different paths for that information (for other warning systems like CMAS).
- That was followed by a discussion on the current FCC proposal to ban the use of Text to Speech (TTS) technology. Larry Estlack noted that his state had been using a GSS CAP system for over a year and had had two AMBER Alerts in that time where TTS was used with no problems or mispronunciations. Harold Price predicted that the TTS situation would be wrapped up this week and Don Miller passed on some information from the Washington state Broadcasters Association about the legal action they were taking to prevent the FCC from banning TTS. They all predicted that the FCC would announce this week that they were dropping the proposal.
- David Ostmo of Sinclair Texas brought up the subject of using digital TV side channels as a secondary or backup distribution system. Las Vegas PBS described how local public safety officials were using ther their side channels to distribute information to First Responders in the field. there was a brief and weedy discussion about digitally packaging the CAP message, formats, and licensing that might be needed for such a system. Harold Price reminded everyone that no matter was systems were used there was a need to make sure the technology worked in the field.
- Barry Mishkind told the group the new plans should include recommendations about specific locations of the event in the warning and the station issuing the warning.
- Manny added that there was a need for strong leadership on EAS issues at the national level and that it didn’t seem like there was a strong commitment to Public Warning from radio and TV station management. Ed Czarnecki pointed out that there was such a commitment from the mobile carriers and that CTIA was taking a strong position on their new role in CMAS and Public Warning. Matt Straeb noted that the industry is even talking about expanding the current 90 character text message limits to better accomodate emergency messages. Bill Ruck reminded the group that they shouldn’t confuse engineering problems with political problems.
- Richard and Larry Estlack talked about how AMBER Alerts had increased awareness of EAS and broadcasters role in Public Warning.
- Richard directed the conversation to the issue of cable over ride of local EAS messages and to David Ostmo as the BWWG expert on cable service. After a brief discussion on current technology and costs, David and Ed Czarnecki predicted that new technology would be in the field and the problem would resolve itself in five years.
- Several attendees brought up the subject of testing and the importance of getting state and local emergency officials involved in the routine testing of the system.
- Manny again noted the need for strong leadership on EAS issues and broadcasters. Suggestions ere offered about developing public private programs for CAP EAS similar to what the Department of Justice had done with AMBER Alerts. suggestions were made that because DoJ had been so successful with the AMBER programs and that AMBER Alerts would be part of CAP that DoJ work with FEMA and the FCC to put together a series of training and education programs.
- Manny reminded everyone that there would be CAP EAS demos at the FEMA booth daily at 10 and 2.
- After other final comments Richard adjourned the meeting.