Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to enhance the use of the agency’s Disaster Information Reporting System, or DIRS.
The FCC uses two databases to track network outages: the Network Outage Reporting System and DIRS. All providers of voice service must report any network outage to NORS. The FCC does not share the information reported to NORS to any party, and does not publish the information. When disasters occur that may create network outages, such as hurricanes, the FCC activates the DIRS until the geographic area impacted by the disaster recovers its communications capabilities. Unlike NORS, participation in DIRS is voluntary. The FCC makes DIRS reports directly available to state and local officials to provide “situational awareness” of communications and posts an aggregated report of DIRS data daily to the public, until the FCC deactivates the DIRS for the specific event.
This Report and Order makes it mandatory, rather than voluntary, for providers of voice services to report outages to DIRS. The Order also relieves providers of the obligation to report to NORS as well as DIRS when DIRS is activated. This change will simplify reporting and provide both officials and the general public with more complete data on damage to communications infrastructure during disasters and into disaster recovery. Public Knowledge applauds the agency for moving to keep Americans informed of their network status during emergencies.
The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“Today’s action will help ensure that those who lose communications in a blackout will have the information they need to plan and prepare. For state and local officials, it will provide a complete picture of what communications services are functioning and where infrastructure needs repair. For the public, it will let them know the extent of the damage and help them track how long it takes for essential communications services to be restored so they can reconnect with their loved ones.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.