Shulz's guest commentary (“It's Broke; Stop Trying to Fix It”)
was long overdue. The points needed to be made. However, the reason
why EAS is broken is because FEMA itself is broken. It has lost its
edge in hiring and retaining experts in the fields of emergency
communications, EAS and public warning.
FEMA may repudiate my accusations, the facts are clear: It has walked
away from the broadcast station protection program, the EMP
protection and maintenance program, the warning siren program and the
Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. Particularly in FEMA Region
II, people who had actual communications and broadcast expertise have
retired and been replaced by specialists who are nothing more than IT
it comes to EAS, no broadcaster, cable operator or state OEM likes or
wants to be bullied into compliance on a program that even its
governing agency doesn't care about or have its heart in. In my 28
years with New Jersey OEM, I could see this deterioration and
lackluster response. Another lesser-known example is the Cold War-era
National Warning System (NAWAS).
since the threat of a Soviet missile attack lessened and the National
Warning Center moved out of the NORAD facility, America has gotten
complacent and nonchalant about other kinds of attacks and disasters.
During 9/11, I was in my office at the NJ State EOC, and was aghast
that the national NAWAS circuit remained silent the entire morning.
very system intended for when we’re under attack was not used by
FEMA (or anybody else) on that fateful morning.
also agree with Mr. Schulz that the national EAS test, while sorely
needed, was a dismal technical failure. Whatever happened to the
dedicated and hardened telephone circuits that used to feed each PEP
station? In an actual emergency, who has time to set up a telephone
conference bridge from FEMA HQ to all the constituent stations?
I also agree with
Mr. Schulz that since practically everything runs on the Internet
now, hacking into EAS can be accomplished at any level. Even more
disturbing is that one of my EAS partners here in New Jersey has
suffered several IP attacks in which one of his satellite
transmitters was taken off the air numerous times by a hacker.
good is EAS if some psycho or junior high school kid can shut your
have become too naive and complacent about the Internet. As a cost
saving effort, many have discontinued their copper telephone service
(POTS) in favor of the cellphone. Nothing could be more foolish.
we learned our lesson after suffering the various infrastructure
failures during 9/11, Katrina and most recently Hurricane Sandy? The
traditional over-the-air delivery system, as Mr. Schulz points out,
is slowly becoming obsolete — not because of technology, but
because of subtle marketing efforts to make it so. He mentions
replacing car radios with WiFi hotspot receivers. How incredibly
foolish is that?
the public swallows this up like lemmings going over a cliff. As long
as the glitz and “wow factor” are waved around, the public will
buy into anything. Wasn’t P.T. Barnum right?