Responding to criticisms about not modernizing the Emergency Alert System (EAS), homeland security officials said they've made progress and will launch a pilot project in D.C. in several weeks. Reynold Hoover, national security coordinator, Dept. of Homeland Security, told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness & Response the 6-month project is aimed at integrating emergency systems to modern digital forms of communications. T-Mobile and Verizon will participate, along with local broadcast stations, Hoover said, and the department is in talks with Nextel: "I don't think this could have been done any faster. The technology wasn't available." He said one challenge is getting to a common alert protocol. The idea is to be able to issue emergency alerts to anyone through cell phones, pagers, Blackberrys and other wireless devices. In Aug., the FCC issued a proposed rulemaking concerning EAS's effectiveness(CD Aug 5 p8). The FCC isn't directly involved in the pilot project but is awaiting the outcome, Hoover said.