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Wireless Carriers Must Publicly Report Emergency Alert Data

April 22, 2022 by Madeline Hughes
Wireless Carriers Must Publicly Report Emergency Alert Data

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to require wireless providers to report data from their Wireless Emergency Alerts.

For a decade those emergency notifications have served to notify people something important is happening that needs their attention.

However, little is known about the system that has sent out about 62,000 alerts over the past 10 years, according to the FCC. On Thursday commission leadership voted unanimously to require wireless providers using the alerts to provide relevant data to the commission.

Those rules will help the government get a firmer grasp on how effective the system that is “central to our emergency alerting efforts” is, according to Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

When wireless providers adopt the new rules, there will be more insight into the reliability, speed and accuracy of Wireless Emergency Alerts.

The rules come after data was collected in 2021 when the FCC partnered with multiple cities and public safety departments across the country along with the National Weather Service to determine what was needed to improve services.

“We learned that while most respondents received the test message, some went undelivered. There were also reports of duplicate messages, which could be confusing in a real emergency,” Rosenworcel said. “So the proposals in the rulemaking we adopt here build on what we learned and provide a pathway for better data and monitoring in the future.”

While the rules are not yet set, the commission is launching a program to work with municipalities this summer to refine the rules, she added.

In 2008, when the national alert system expanded from just radio and television to mobile phones, it was a voluntary effort, “but Congress was on to something. Because in the intervening years, mobile devices have moved from the periphery to the core of our lives,” Rosenworcel said. 

Now, it’s important to study these efforts because “they are in our palms, pockets and purses — they are with us always. They are also now a fundamental feature of public safety communications,” Rosenworcel said.

Madeline can be reached at maddie@thewellnews.com

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