Homeland Security Officials have Made Progress in Emergency Alert System

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.