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Collins Wants Social Media Involved in Alerting

Lieberman calls EAS coverage gaps unacceptable

The EAS test garnered attention on Capitol Hill, and at least one response to coverage gaps exposed by the test was harsh.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said weaknesses in the system exposed by the test are “unacceptable,” according to the Los Angeles Times, which noted that Lieberman praised regulators for conducting the test.

The FCC and FEMA reported that large areas of the country received the test but others did not, and that the government plans improvements.

The paper also quoted Lieberman as saying “government and media carriers must work together to make sure the system does what it is intended to do, which is to transmit a nationwide message from the president in a crisis.”

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, ranking Republican on the committee, says FEMA needs to make sure the alerts reach the most people possible.

To that end, Collins announced she plans to introduce a bill to ensure FEMA uses “cutting-edge technology” for emergency alerting.

“Traditional radio and TV broadcasts remain integral to communicating emergency information, but Americans are also getting a constant stream of information from Twitter, Facebook and other social networking platforms whether at home or on the go via smart phones and other devices,” she said in a statement.

Collins told the Portland Press Herald the measure would require FEMA to continue conducting regular national alerting tests and that training would be available for state and local emergency officials on implementing new technology, FEMA’s so-called IPAWS CAP-EAS, to also enable the public to receive alerts on several digital devices.

Maine Association of Broadcasters President/CEO Suzanne Goucher called for such training when she testified before Congress this summer.