Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to seek comment on proposals to bolster the effectiveness of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system. This WEA system allows federal, state, and local emergency management agencies to notify people about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical public safety situations on their cell phones or other mobile devices.
The WEA system has been active for a decade, and in that time more than 61,000 alerts have been issued to the public. However, there is no consistent mechanism for the FCC to collect data on the WEA system’s technical performance, which hinders the agency’s ability to make improvements to the system. Public Knowledge applauds the FCC for taking this commonsense step to ensure it has the information it needs to continue to improve the Wireless Emergency Alerts system so that people can receive the critical, and often life-saving, information they need.
The following can be attributed to Nicholas Garcia, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“Metrics and data form the bedrock of good policy. It is astonishing that the WEA system has operated for 10 years without basic, regular reporting requirements on how the system functions. We applaud the FCC for its tireless work to improve public safety through communications technology.
“We hope that in the upcoming rulemaking proceeding the FCC will adopt new rules that create a regular and detailed flow of reports on WEA’s performance. Having information on how WEA performs is a commonsense step for ensuring that the system can be made more efficient and reliable; and that translates directly to saving lives. Collecting these performance reports will allow the FCC and its partners to continue to build on the successes of the past decade by improving WEA’s speed, accuracy, and reliability in the years to come.”
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.