The California wildfires have SBE engineers thinking about ways to better ensure that technical personnel have access to their transmission sites during a crisis or as soon as possible afterwards.
Society of Broadcast Engineers President Barry Thomas writes in a letter to Bob Gonsett published in the CGC Communicator. Thomas says SBE members are discussing a credentialing program that will grant them access to disaster areas to restore critical broadcast operations.
(The idea is not new, though the scope would be. As RW reported in a cover story at the time, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association in 2006 made agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Justice to issue Broadcaster Emergency Personnel ID cards. That program might serve as a model. You can read about it here.)
“The problem is that a national credential probably won’t get you past a state or local police roadblock because the rules (and dangers) are different in each situation,” writes Thomas. “A successful program will need to be based in state or local government.”
This is similar to what radio and TV stations in New Orleans had done for their news personnel after Hurricane Katrina to ensure that in the future, news crews could get to where they needed to be to perform their jobs and get vital information out to the public during the next crisis.
Though the discussion is in its infancy, according to Thomas, the SBE is talking to FEMA and other federal parties to figure out the best way to accomplish this goal.
Barry invites input at www.sbe.org.