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Senators Introduce Legislation to Provide Disaster Alerts

Senators Introduce Legislation to Provide Disaster Alerts

Members of Congress have introduced two bills that highlight the need to improve emergency communications during and after a disaster.
Senators Jim DeMint, R-S.C. and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., the chairman and ranking member of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Disaster Prevention and Prediction, introduced S. 1753, the Warning, Alerts, and Response Network Act.
If passed, the legislation would provide for the establishment a network to transmit alerts across a variety of media, including cell phones, blackberry, digital, analog, cable and satellite radio and TV, as well as non-traditional media such as sirens and “radios-on-a-stick.”
It would also provide at least $250 million for the research, development and deployment of technologies and equipment to operate the alert systems.
Senator John Kerry, D-Mass. introduced a bill requiring the Department of Homeland Security and FCC to explore feasibility and costs of using a back-up communications systems to improve communications capabilities during a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
The Communications Security Act of 2005 requires the DHS and FCC to evaluate all reasonable options, including satellites, wireless and terrestrial-based systems to strengthen the existing communications system.
The measure assumes analog spectrum to be given up by TV broadcasters when they convert to digital would be freed for emergency communications use.