Twenty-Five EAS subject experts participated in the Broadcast Warning Working Group (BWWG) SECC plan writing workshop today at NAB in Las Vegas:
Adrienne Abbott, Nevada SECC / BWWG
Alan Alsobrook, Wholenews
Manny Centano, FEMA
Bill Croghan, Nevada SECC
Ed Czarnecki, Monroe Electronics
Jim Dalke, Washington State SECC
Larry Estlack, Dir. Of Technology, MAB
James Gorman, GR
Don Heppleman, Minnesota SECC
Don Miller, MyStatesUSA
Barry Mishkind, Broadcast Desktop Resource / BWWG
George Molnar, Vegas PBS/Clark County LECC
Marcos O’Rourke, Orange County, CA LECC
David Ostmo, Texas SECC / BWWG
Darryl Parker, TFT
Harold Price, SAGE
Bill Robertson, Digital Alert Systems
Bill Ruck, Curmudgeon, San Francisco
Richard Rudman, California SECC / BWWG
Steve Scott, Sinclair Broadcasting
Matthew Straeb, GSS
Gary Timm, Wisconsin SECC / AWARE Forum
Don Walker, WCS Consulting
Larry Wilkins, Alabama SECC
Rod Zeigler, Nebraska SECC
A draft sample SECC plan document was circulated for later comment by the attendees. The plan consists of two parts. The first part outlines policies that are not likely to change. The second part consists of a series of Communications Operational Orders (COO’s) that will likely have to be updated. Once a plan written this way is signed by all agencies concerned, there is no need to have the plan re-signed when elements like SECC members, call letters or monitoring assignments change.
Most of the two-hour meeting was a discussion of best practices for EAS we can offer to state and local committees to help them rewrite their plans and make EAS a more effective warning system. Subsequent postings on the EAS Forum will go into details, but a number of best practices central themes were identified:
- Getting both emergency managers and broadcasters to look at EAS from the point of view of audiences at risk
- Finding ways to get more support in the emergency management community to originate EAS messages and trying to fix the disconnect between the emergency management community and broadcasters and cable operators.
- The need to implement better ways that CAP-EAS makes possible to target EAS messages to those affected than the current FIPS codes
- Bring the Department of Justice back into the EAS Federal Partnership to assure continued support for AMBER alerts.
- Grant finding ideas to support training and education about EAS in the emergency management community.
- Grant funding ideas to support the work of volunteer state and local committees
- Ideas to implement Digital Local Relay Networks to back up the public Internet for IPAWS OPEN message distribution
- Coordination of the overall warning effort with other warning systems like CMAS
- Outreach to NEMA, IAEM and APCO
The BWWG would like to thank NAB’s Larry Walke for making a room available for this meeting on short notice.
SUPPLEMENTAL MEETING NOTES BY BWWG CORE MEMBER ADRIENNE ABBOTT
BWWG PLAN WRITING AND BEST PRACTICES WORKSHOP MEETING NOTES
Adrienne Abbott, BWWG Core member
Thanks to BWWG core member Adrienne Abbott (SECC, Nevada) for sending me her notes on the meeting yesterday held during NAB Week to supplement my notes that can be found at [ http://eas.radiolists.net/ ]. Many thanks to NAB for getting us a room to meet in on very short notice.
I took the liberty of adding to what Adrienne gave me within ( ) in the following:
- New/rewritten state and local plans are needed to (clearly) define roles and procedures for the use of CAP (within EAS, and to implement changes in FCC Part 11).
- What are some Best Practices that can/should be part of the new procedures (that we need to get out to state and local committees, and warning centers)?
- Who signs off on new plans?
- State and local agencies need to be involved in plan writing and to develop (better) trust in broadcasters and EAS
- (FEMA online training module) IS 247 is a prerequisite for activators to use CAP, broadcasters should take it also. The course is not perfect yet. It would be good to see how well the CAP system handles the messages IS-247 students write.
- Manny Centeno notes that with the new CAP technology the new EAS plans should be part of procedures at EOC’s and dispatch centers so messages can be sent easily and quickly.
- Bill Ruck told the group that he has found police and fire chiefs and other public safety officials are concerned about the cost of training First Responders on CAP EAS.
- Manny responded suggested that he has information on grants and language for grant writing that he can email information to anyone who needs it. He also suggested that requests for grant funding include money for training and meetings with emergency officials. He also suggested that Provisions be made to educate the public on EAS and other warning messages so they know what’s going on, what to do and what to expect.
- Richard reminded everyone that CAP EAS is not just for origination of EAS messages and that there is room now for different levels of messages and different paths for that information (for other warning systems like CMAS).
- That was followed by a discussion on the current FCC proposal to ban the use of Text to Speech (TTS) technology. Larry Estlack noted that his state had been using a GSS CAP system for over a year and had had two AMBER Alerts in that time where TTS was used with no problems or mispronunciations. Harold Price predicted that the TTS situation would be wrapped up this week and Don Miller passed on some information from the Washington state Broadcasters Association about the legal action they were taking to prevent the FCC from banning TTS. They all predicted that the FCC would announce this week that they were dropping the proposal.
- David Ostmo of Sinclair Texas brought up the subject of using digital TV side channels as a secondary or backup distribution system. Las Vegas PBS described how local public safety officials were using ther their side channels to distribute information to First Responders in the field. there was a brief and weedy discussion about digitally packaging the CAP message, formats, and licensing that might be needed for such a system. Harold Price reminded everyone that no matter was systems were used there was a need to make sure the technology worked in the field.
- Barry Mishkind told the group the new plans should include recommendations about specific locations of the event in the warning and the station issuing the warning.
- Manny added that there was a need for strong leadership on EAS issues at the national level and that it didn’t seem like there was a strong commitment to Public Warning from radio and TV station management. Ed Czarnecki pointed out that there was such a commitment from the mobile carriers and that CTIA was taking a strong position on their new role in CMAS and Public Warning. Matt Straeb noted that the industry is even talking about expanding the current 90 character text message limits to better accomodate emergency messages. Bill Ruck reminded the group that they shouldn’t confuse engineering problems with political problems.
- Richard and Larry Estlack talked about how AMBER Alerts had increased awareness of EAS and broadcasters role in Public Warning.
- Richard directed the conversation to the issue of cable over ride of local EAS messages and to David Ostmo as the BWWG expert on cable service. After a brief discussion on current technology and costs, David and Ed Czarnecki predicted that new technology would be in the field and the problem would resolve itself in five years.
- Several attendees brought up the subject of testing and the importance of getting state and local emergency officials involved in the routine testing of the system.
- Manny again noted the need for strong leadership on EAS issues and broadcasters. Suggestions ere offered about developing public private programs for CAP EAS similar to what the Department of Justice had done with AMBER Alerts. suggestions were made that because DoJ had been so successful with the AMBER programs and that AMBER Alerts would be part of CAP that DoJ work with FEMA and the FCC to put together a series of training and education programs.
- Manny reminded everyone that there would be CAP EAS demos at the FEMA booth daily at 10 and 2.
- After other final comments Richard adjourned the meeting.
Please watch the EAS Forum for more on this project.