tv Emergency Alert System CSPAN January 26, 2018 8:41am-10:29am EST
month. this hearing is almost 2 hours. >> good morning and welcome to these hearings on our country's emergency alert system. i hope to hear from our panel about what's working , what's not and what we can do to better prevent alerts like we saw with the hallway ballistic missile warning earlier this month. sharing state and local governments the safeguards to properly alert the public of an impending emergency is critical. alerts not only create an unnecessary panic but undermine the integrity of the alert system learning to distrust and confusion. what happened in hawaii must be addressed to ensure an incident like that never happens again. it is essential americans have an alert system they can trust by and large, i believe they do. there's much that is working
well with the emergency alert system, it's arguably a model of public-private programs operating as envisioned by this committee through the war in. industry partners including those represented have been investing to improve the system and are working with government and public safety to carry out the mission. we serve certainly do not want to overlook the success but as recent events have shown, there are problems that must be addressed. today's hearing will be the first to hearings on emergency alert systems, the near future we will hold the field hearing in hawaii to further address egypt january 13 false alarm and follow-up on issues discussed today. since the early days of the cold war the united states has been building an alert system to warn our citizens. . . . . . public's assistance on danger. soon we will have blue alerts
which can be issued when there is an imminent and credible threat to a law enforcement officer.from the beginning our emergency alert system would harness the immense resources of commercial medications systems, broadcast television, radio and eventually capable and satellite tv and mobile phone networks to reach the american public as effectively as possible. here's how the system works or should work. our alert system relies on federal state and local officials authorized by the federal and state emergency management agency to decide when an alert is appropriate. these alerts are sent to fema. fema received the alert and validates that it is from an authorized entity before forwarding it to the broadcasters mobile phone provider who in turn cellular out on television, radio and mobile homes in the affected areas. communications commission regulates interface between sending the messages in a communication companies that deliver the messages to us. ensuring that people get the information they need and if alerts are credible, the recipients is an ongoing process but it is fundamental that messages must be credit.
messages sent are like the hallway ballistic missile alert on the risk of undermining the alert system by reducing people's confidence in alerts. while we do not want to prevent unauthorized officials from communicating alerts whenthey see fit, you must ensure that such officials are better trained . there are additional improvements we can undertake, for example there is no question the national weather service is watch and warning system they fly but it can be. that is why i included provisions in the weather research and forecasting innovation act of 2017 which became law last ring that require the national weather service to use the latest behavioral science to improve its watch and warning system. we should make sure that lessons learned from one incident inform and improve your alerts. the sec has taken steps to make improvements to the outlook system through the use of better geo-targeting messages which is being considered as current proceeding. that is targeting messages to
those who need to receive them and not sending them to those who don't. in this helps avoid alert fees and also addresses the concerns expressed by some local officials during the california wildfires last year that an overly broad alert could result in trafficking jams with those unnecessarily leaving home and hindering the evacuation of those who really do need to leave. here today the goal of providing timely emergency information to our community is also advanced by private citizens. like those amateur or ham radio operators who help connected after crashes like hurricane harvey, irma and maria. i'm pleased to welcome miss lisathe chief of the fcc's public safety bureau , mister scott, senior vice president of regulatory affairs and mister sam metheny, that's right. metheny, thank you. executive vice president and chief technical technology officer at the association of
broadcasters and mike was an, the representative of the amateur radio relay. thank you for being here and i look forward to today's discussion and i will now recognize writing a number center shots for any opening remarks. and thank you too for speaking personally to the impact of this issue. >> you mister chairman. for many people in hawaii one of the most harrowing hours of their lives are just a few minutes after 8 am on january 13 2018. cell phones across the state let up with a warning that a ballistic missile attack was imminent. the next 38 minutes both residents and visitors people were terrified as they scramble to get in touch with loved ones. i know , because i was home in honolulu that morning and started to get dozens of tax with screenshots of the alert asking me what was happening. meanwhile, the hawaii emergency management area
>> by a missile attack is federal a missile attack is not a local responsibility. something like a missile attack should be side with the agency that knows first hand for sure in other words people who know should be the people who tell us. that is why am introducing legislation with that authority for missile alerts. and to be safe and informed look for to hearing from the witnesses and what we can do better. >> thank you senator and we all look forward to working
with you to make sure it doesn't happen with your constituents. senator nelson is here. by the way i thought yesterday's hearing at the auto show was outstanding so if you were told a ballistic missile is inbound and our loved ones were spread out, what in the world would go through your mind? that is exactly what went through the mind of senator shots. regrettably it is real and personal and he received the alert.
and to that situation and that leadership that i will be here simply to support him in this. nobody should have to go through with the full set of hawaii did but the flipside is we want to make sure there is a system in place if there is an inbound nuclear warhead people are alerted. when disasters occur americans relied not only on the emergency alerts, but also the 911 system. but the infrastructure is aging and has been left behind congress must modernize that
911 system as a national priority that is why work with senator clover chart to introduce the next generation 911 act of 2017. i hope this is something we need a template to move ahead this is a good bill to start moving ahead on. >> hopefully we can work together had to get done and specifically for the people of hawaii. we look forward to hearing from our panel this morning he will start with the chief of public safety at the fcc which has jurisdiction under scott
bergman and the chairman of the advocacy committee from the board of directors and executive vice president national association of broadcasters. if you can confine your oral remarks we will make sure all testimony is made a part of the record but that will give us time to ask questions. please proceed. >> good morning chairman, ranking member nelson and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you the false ballistic missile warning issued january 13 by the state of hawaii was absolutely unacceptable. with widespread panic and what it took to correct the error nearly 40 minutes compounded the problem.
those mistakes were serious this damage the credibility of the emergency alert messaging which can be dangerous when a real emergency occurs. so that investigation is ongoing but based on ongoing information it is the result of simple human error. second not to have a safeguard of controls in place to prevent the human error in the transmission of a false alarm. sending representatives to the agency and other stakeholders the hawaii emergency management agency tells us it is working with the vendor to integrate safeguards into its offer change in protocol to require two individuals to sign off on the transmission
of test and alerts. we are pleased with the level of cooperation we have received thus far but we are disappointed however that one key employee the person who transmitted the false alert is refusing to cooperate with our investigation. we hope that person will reconsider. moving forward looking at ways to keep this from happening again local officials need to work together to do what is necessary and we also must ensure that shed a false alert occur a correction is issued promptly to minimize confusion to have timely and life-saving information we must take our mom -- all measures and while
the incident is present in our mind we cannot lose sight of those emergency alerts that enhance safety. the last five years refusing to issue over 33000 emergency alerts in california was used four times in those wildfires in northern california and 16 times with the california wildfires. also with the hurricanes the commission has taken significant steps to handle those capabilities the commission adopted rules to enable wireless alerts to have more content and enable support in spanish. participating wireless providers were required to
target alerts that is affected by emergency all providers are now required to transmit to a geographic area it is the area affected even smaller than a county so to further improve the system the commission will vote on an order requiring wireless providers to target alerts with the overreach of no more than one tenth of a mile requiring carriers to require the alerts over 24 hours hours we look forward to partnering with professionals from your jurisdiction to use the public alert and warning system during times of crisis. i look forward to any questions you may have.
>> on behalf of ctia thank you for the opportunity to testify about the role of emergency alerts. commending for the focus on this issue in the leadership over the last decade going back to the war in act of 2006 that created the wireless emergency alert program. that partnership with public safety officials. since the launch it is a critical resource for hundreds of millions of american today serving more than 99% voluntarily participate in helping to locate those in danger they are deeply committed to have an effective
resource for the american public so the recent false alert underscores the importance of functionality and integrity and credibility of the system and with that in mind my testimony will address the vital role to play the ongoing efforts to enhance the capabilities and importance to maintain the systems its capabilities, and the importance of maintaining the system's integrity. a decade ago this committee recognized the value of wireless emergency alerts to reach nearly every american. now, has more than half of american households are wireless only, wea has become an essential tool for public safety officials to reach americans wherever they are. wea is part of our broader national alerting system. federal, state, and local authorities transmit emergency messages to fema. they distribute them to the various national alerting systems and wireless providers provide wea messages to the targeted area as determined by
alert authorities. wireless providers do not control message content and do not exercise discretion over whether to transmit messages. because local authorities can target wea alerts to a particular area, they're extremely effective at reaching those americans directly impacted by an emergency. we, as unique sound and vibration help ensure that everyone is aware of the alert. wireless emergency alerts have helped to return abducted children, they've warned millions of people in the path of severe weather events like flood, tornadoes, and wildfires, and they've helped law enforcement catch terror suspects in the 2013 boston marathon bombing and 2016 chelsea bombing in new york city. and we continue to expand wea's capabilities. in the past year, the fcc has adopted rules to expand the content that authorities can stoned consumers adding additional characters, spanish language, blue alerts, and download able content from embedded links, as well as
support for additional state and local testing. we've supported these enhancements because our members are committed to the proven life-saving success of wea. next week the fcc plans to adopt an order that further enhances wea's geo-targeting capabilities. today wea alerts can be targeted down to the cell sector level, a significant improvement over the initial county level targeting. given the expanding public safety mission for wee, cti supports the fcc proposed geo-targeting framework which can help public safety minimize overalerting through innovative, device based solutions. significant standards, deployment and testing work till need to be done to support this capability. for this reason, we'll be challenging the fcc's propose timeline 2018, but the wireless industry will work intently do so. finally, the false afirst alert hawaii underscores the public confidence in our national alerting systems must remain our highest priority. alert originators must send
warnings appropriately and jaw di dishsly, and they mut must provide mess anls to the targeted area. we must work quickly to identify lessons learned from stleent and we appreciate the call for additional best practices. there will be many lessons learned, but this event also demonstrates that the technical capabilities of the wea system work. for this reason policymakers and the public should have confidence that in the event of a real emergency authenticated information can be disseminated rapidly and effectively through the wireless emergency alert system. cti is proud of the critical role that wea plays in our national alert system and is committed to working collaborative to main taping public confidence. thank you for the opportunity to testify and i look forward to your question. >> mr. la senco. >> good morning. it is a great privilege to address you this morning in my
capacity as a member of the board of directors of the american radio relay league, the national association for amateur radio. we have approximately 175,000 members throughout the united states and we represent the interest of the 750,000 licensed amateur or ham radio operators in the u.s. amateur radio is an adventurial pursuit. there is also a very serious side to amateur radio. it's far more than a hobby. with ow license from the fcc comes a responsibility to promote emergency communications during times of disaster. the arrl understands u.s. military, fema and dhs. we provide all the emergency communications for the american red cross and salvation army. razz much as we think we are so he 50 indicate with the technology, things break. seeing how amateur radio in a disaster in a crisis often times is the one thing that was still up and run, a ham transmitting can mean the difference between
life and death. end quote. amateur radio operators are included in emergency operations plans in every state of the union. the role played by ham in disasters was in full display in fall of 2017 which saw four major hurricanes make landfall in the united states and its territories. these caused significant damage to florida, texas, puerto rico, and the virgin islands. in advance of, during, and in the aftermath of each one trained radio operators using radio stations in their homes and portable radio facilities responded in large numbers. they reported critical weather to the national weather service and the national hurricane center. they drained dozen of their brethren in puerto rico and the virgin island after the hurricane to provide restoration services. they provided health and welfare communication where's no other method of communication was available. they provided all of the communications for the red cross and the salvation army.
the red cross requested an arrl dispatch an additional 50 amateur radio operators equipped with emergency communications kits outfitted free of charge by arrl to help restore communications in the immediate aftermath. and as discussed in our written testimony, they did a multitude of other things all at no cost to the public or to the federal government. in hawaii, our teams are prepared to assist in the case of any emergency whether natural or manmade. for example, in the immediate aftermath of maria a radio operator was highlighted in hawaii for his work in connect in connectsing a hawaii family with relatives in puerto rico. he did so using an effective outdoor antenna and a station in his residence which he would use in a disafter thor in maui. after the january alarm, nbc's left field reported lt reported that, quote area in the case of an electronic pulse from a blast, 90% of the people will be without communication and ham
radio swuchbt ways thaul be able to hear what is happening throughout the islands whether or not people are okay, who is alive, end quote. while arrl and the amateur radio community rarely need anything from the federal government, what we must have is an effective outdoor amateur radio an ten ta a in order to practice our vocation on our properties. the ability to practice our craft is crucial to our being ready to perform when needed in a crisis. to do that, we must have some sort of effective outdoor antenna. the restricted communities undermine the ability of the radio community to be ready when disaster strikes. these restrictions prevent any outdoor an ten abof any size or height. today all housing are structures are done all without antenna bhats they've done with the parody kt is strike a necessary balance between a ham's der sire to install an antenna and the hoa's right to say what size they can be.
in 2015, the distinguish senator from florida expressed reservations about the legislation stating that he supported amateur radio but, quote, there must be a happy compromise, unquote. based on his stated concerns, arrl began intense negotiations with community associations institute, the only national association for homeowner's associations lasting several months. these discussions culminated in a happy compromise endorsed by cia and arrl as well as the american red cross and the salvation army and the compromised bill passed the house. we hope that this committee will extend its support to the wicker blumenthal bill as 1534 to ensure that the ham radio community will continue to be relied upon when the disaster strikes. i appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today about the role of ham radio in a disaster. i look forward to answering any questions. >> mr. matheny. >> good morning. shareman thune, ranking members nelson and schatz, and members
of the committee. i'm sam matheny and i'm the chief technology officer at the national association of broadcasters. on behalf of the thousands of free, local television and radio broadcasters in your home towns, thank you for inviting me to testify on the emergency alert system. and how broadcasters fulfill their roles as first informers and how innovation will allow broadcasters to do even more to keep viewers and listeners safe during emergencies. broadcasters take seriously their role as the most trusted source of news and emergency updates. whether it's preparing listeners and viewers for the coming storm, directing them to needed supplies and shelter during the disaster, or helping rebuild in the aftermath, local stations are part of the communities they serve. and broadcasting is sometimes the only available communications medium in an emergency when wireless networks
fail. morning consult recently found that the american people turned to broadcastners times of emergency by a factor of more than three to one. broadcasting is unique for the following reasons. first, broadcasting covers virtually everyone. broadcast signals reach more of the u.s. population than any other communication medium. broadcasting is localized. local broadcast stations can deliver market specific information as well as national alerts. broadcasting has no bottle necks. an emergency alert can reach millions of people simultaneously without concern over network congestion. broadcasting is redundant. there are numerous independently operated stations in each market that deliver alerts. broadcasting is resilient. stations often operate with backup equipment, generators, and fuel supplies to keep stations on the air.
broadcaster information is actionable. radio and television can provide enough information to enable people to understand what is happening and what steps they should take. and finally, broadcasters are trusted. they are members of the local community and speak not just as an authority but as a neighbor. but broadcasters do more than just deliver messages to the public. broadcasters are also the backbone of the emergency alert system. working with the government since the 1950s, broadcasters have operated and evolved a nationwide wireless network to deliver emergency alerts. this daisy chain of broadcast stations ensures that emergency alert can be delivered independent of internet connectivity and even when power outages disrupt other forms of communication. in fact, broadcasters serve as primary entry points for emergency communications to the
public and are thus part of solution from beginning to end. because broadcasting plays such an important role in this commit cal communication's infrastructure, it is vital that the government support and foster broadcasting. i'd like to briefly outline three key areas for your consideration. first, the next generation television standard, atcs which was recently approved by the sec has many features that will approve emergency alerting including the ability to wake up sleeping devices, more precise geo targeted alerts and sending rich multimedia files such as weather radar images, evacuation maps, and even video files with detailed explanations about the emergency and what to do. new regulatory hurdles should not be placed in our way as we deploy next gen tv. second, broadcasters are in the final and most complicated phase of the incentive option.
the repack phase. nearly 1,000 television stations will be moving to new channel assignments and this will also impact over 700 fm radio stations -- moves successfully and without impair the public's ability to access emergency alerts. i ask for your support of the viewer and listener protection act sponsored by senators moran, schatz, and eight of their colleagues and urge its pass single as no station must be forced off the air due to a lack of funds on ub reasonable time constraints. and third, broadcast vers been working with the wireless phone manufacturers and service providers on market-based solutions to activate fm chips in smartphones. our market efforts have been successful with one very notable exception, apple. we believe apple should be encouraged to activate the fm
tuner in future models of their iphone as it will improve people's access to vital information in times of disaster. in conclusion, in emergencies large and small, our nation and your hometowns benefit from a strong and vibrant broadcast industry. fema calls broadcasting a redundant, resilient, and december alerting pathway. i agree. thank you for having me here today. i look forward to answering any questions. >> thank you, mr. matheny. appreciate all of you talking about the important roles that each of the organizations that you're here on behalf play in this overall process. i'd like to start with ms. fowlkes and ask you if you could describe or explain to us the role the fcc plays in the emergency alert system and how that interacts with the larger what they refer to as the eye pause communication system. kind of just how does the fcc that's sort of where this
committee's jurisdiction and interest is, how do they relate in this whole sequence of events? >> the fcc is responsible for the distribution part of the eas and wea. in other words, we adopt and administer rules that apply to the community occasion service providers that participate in those two -- if n those two systems. for example, with respect to wea, we have rules that would apply to the participating wireless carriers in terms of how they're infrastructure is to react when it receives the alert. certainly issues like geo-targeting are the types of things that we would govern. with respect to the eas, how their capabilities their eas
equipment must have in order to receive and transmit an eas alert. we do not have authority over the alert origination piece, which is the part of the system where government agencies decide whether to issue an alert, what the alert is going to -- what information the alert's going to include, the target area. that's not within our purview. fema oversees the integrated public alert and warning system. so basically kind of think of it as three pieces. the alert origination piece, the i pause tees, which is fema, the distribution by the communication service provider, he they are participating under rules that are adopted and administered by the fcy. >> do you see any needed change in the rules based on this
incident? >> that's something that i really can't answer. the fcc doesn't have a position on that. i think in terms of that, it wouldn't be so much changing a rule, it would be something that would have to change in terms of our authority. certainly if congress decided it wanted to make changes, we would stand ready to provide technical assistance with any draft legislation and the obviously if congress enacted some legislation we'd obviously implement it. >> well, do you have -- is the fcc to that point ever exerted jurisdiction over authorities to require that there are best practices used to make sure there are adequate safeguards in place to prevent false alerts? >> no. >> and do you think -- i mean, do you believe the commission has the authority or tools that it needs 10 to sure that an incident like the one that
happened in hawaii never happens again currently? >> given the fact that the problem was not -- was on the alert origination piece, the fcc does not have authority over -- in that area. >> right. okay. so just to ask, i guess, the obvious question, at least the one intuitively that i thought of when i heard about all of this, that is -- so you describe this as a three-part process and the fcc is on the distribution part of it. the origination alert, then the fema clearinghouse function. it seems to me why, then -- this is a ballistic missile threat. i mean, this is a dod -- this is like nuclear war type thing. why was a state agency involved in that alert? and i understand, you know, we have a lot of experience in my part of the country with weather rps. the national weather service works closely with fema and all
those alerts go out if there's a potential tornado threat, that sort of thing. but it seems to me at least in this case i'm still at a loss as to how if there's an originating -- origination of the alert and then sort of a clearinghouse, how that got so messed up. does anybody want to take a stab at that? >> well, from the fcc's perspective, we really can't give an opinion on that. we are not involved in any way in deciding who issues what alert. that is a decision that's on the alert -- purely on the alert origination side. in terms of this specific incident, i would have to refer you to fema and dhs. >> okay. mr. bergman, could you just briefly talk about the wireless industry's role in that emergency alert system? and i know you talked about it generally in terms of the role
that you all play, but particularly in light of this recent discussion and whether it's been a success, in your view. >> so thank you, chairman thune. i think time and again we've seen over the last five years that wireless emergency alerts are ar lifesaver. they've helped return kids who have been abducted. they've helped folks avoid tornadoes that are rolling through their town. and now we're starting to see them used for blue alerts to help identify and locate suspects. and there are a couple of key reasons why. the geo-targeting, right. wireless emergency alerts are the only tool in our toolbox right now that help find you where you are and get that message to you right then. and now as we continue to improve wireless emergency alerts we've given the ability to access urls, embedded links and contents so you can get that information and act on it and that's a powerful combination.
>> senator schatz. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ms. fowlkes, thank you for everything that you and the fcc have been doing. i have a number of questions i'm going 0 give them to you all at once and you can take them for the record to the extent that you're still undergoing the investigation in hawaii, but whatever you can answer would be great. i think the first question is, you know, who gets an alert and who doesn't. and in that category you have the people who turn off the push notifications. so my first question, and, again, i'm going to try to run through them in the interest of time, if on television a tv broadcast tv or cable tv watcher doesn't have the opportunity in settings to turn off those alerts, we presume that everyone must know over those -- over the airwaves, why do we allow people to turnoff alerts of that magnitude? maybe a blue alert, an amber alert is another matter. but in terms of a missile, an incoming ballistic missile, it
seems to me that we should have a system that doesn't give anybody discretion about whether or not they get told that an alert is coming. that's number one. number two, is my understanding is that although this is a voluntary system with the providers, the push alerts that is, that 99 -- we still have about 99% coverage, i just want to condition firm that's true. and then number three is we now have a bunch of people who are watching tv in ditfferent ways. and we still depend heavily, as we should, on our broadcast partners, tv and let's not forget the importance of radio especially in rural america. but, we also have cord cutters who are on youtube or hulu or whatever it may be on their ipad and no alert comes over that system. so i'm wondering where the fcc has done any thinking about how to make sure people who are watching television in a nontraditional way get those alerts. >> on the first question which i
believe you were referring to the opt out option, under the warren act, people can opt out of all but an alert that's issued by the president. so the ability to -- and i should point out with wea, unlike some other types of subscription-based alerting systems, it's an opt out function versus an opt in. but with the exception of anything that's coming from the president, the statue allows wireless carriers to offer the option to opt out. >> and one of the questions we have into the national security council is why is this not just very clearly either by executive order, executive memorandum or by practice why is an incoming missile not absolute the kind of thing that would be -- that would ride on that presidential alert? because although in the drafting of the warren act i'm not sure that that specifically was
contemplated. this seems to me to be the highest priority alert and there fore perfect for presidential alert. >> that's the question that the fcc, again, would not be able to answer. >> not your lane, i got it. >> in terms of -- >> carriers. >> the second question whether which was about whether it was voluntarily? >> the second question was carriers and i believe we have about 99% cover range even though it's voluntary program. and the last question how do we reach cord cutters? how do we reach people who are watching tv in nontraditional ways, not cable, not broadcast? >> that's a very good question and that's something that the fcc's, you know, that's something that we can certainly look at within our authority. >> so that's what i was going to ask is that could you get back to us about whether you need additional authorities to try to move that along or whether you have existing? and if you do have existing authority, i'd like to know what you're going to do to kind of
solve that problem. if you don't, then i think it's incumbent on the congress committee to try to fix that. and then just a quick clarification. did the hawaii emergency management agency need fema to sign off to a correction to the first push notification? >> no. >> there was some -- >> they did not need permission from either fema or the fcc. >> and then my final question for ms. fowlkes is one of the challenges with our broadcast partners ksak is the radio station that's responsible forgetting out emergency information, they couldn't get on the phone with hawaii emergency management agency, they couldn't get on the phone with pay com. the governor was getting threw to dod, i was having difficulty getting through to the governor. what do we do about the phone line problem when everybody's panicking and trying to communicate with each other,
text messages, you know, spotty and we need to have phone conversations. seems to me that the fcc at least in their investigatory process has to assess the extent to which we had problems not just in terms of the systems for communicating with each other in terms of who calls whom, but also that literally people who really needed some sort of red phone to be able to talk to each other were not in a position do so at the technical level. >> that's something that we can take back and look at as part of the investigation. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator schatz. next up, senator clory sharp. >> i want to thank senator schatz for his leadership. i can't imagine what that must have been like in your state. i had of course many minutes to go to hawaii, i wonder why, and i had my state director was actually there when this
happened and told the story of how he had in a hotel condo with no basement, didn't know what to do. they're taking things like anything they can find for an emergency packet. and when you think about that story repeated for kids and how scared they were, that clearly changes have to be made. so i -- i wanted to focus on the legislation that we've been working on with senator nelson and i think it's very important that we upgrade. and i'm cochair of the next gen 911 caucus. first of all, i introduced last congress with senator fisher there are is more on the rural focus, the rural spectrum accessibility act and it was included in the mobile now act that passed the senate. mr. bergmann, how can spectrum, disaggregation and other incentives be used to increase
wireless coverage in rural areas? >> so thank you, senator cobba char? we kment commend you and appreciate your work on that role of spectrum accessibility act. as anyone from rural america knows there are real challenges in make sure we have service out there. geography is challenging, topography is challenging. sparse paplation makes it difficult. we need to do things to make it easier to serve out there. and by creating incentives to put spectrum to use in rural areas, we can give providers greater incentive and lower the barriers to building out networks. and that's a perfect tie-in to our focus here today making sure that as you talked about that we have the most recent 911 service, that we have wireless emergency alerts, all of that is dependent on making sure we can build out to those rural areas. so we believe that legislation
will help advance that goal. >> okay. thank you. ms. fowlkes, ensuring that the right people receive an emergency alert as senator schatz has pointed out, the fcc will be voting soon on an order that would require wireless providers to target alerts within one tenth of a mile. how will the fcc verify that the wireless alerts being sent out satisfy these new requirements? >> at this point, because the proposal is -- hasn't been voted on by the commission, i can't get into more details about what the order may or may not say. >> could you talk about as senator nelson and i work to pass this bill, how would inner operable between systems increase effectiveness? advanced alert systems? >> that's an issue i will have to take back. >> okay. the order of the fcc will soon consider that -- they'll soon
consider that will allow local officials to better target emergency alerts. the fcc order will require participating providers to shift from a network-based approach to one that also uses the location capabilities within cell phones to target necessary messages. this will make sure someone outside a disaster area receives an unnecessary alert. how will providers work with device manufacturers to ensure this new functionality? >> that's, senator. that's really the heart of the fcc's order that will be considered next week and smgt public safety has identified as the single most important improvement to wireless emergency alerts that we can have. if you sort of turn back the clock when wireless emergency alerts were first launched you can target the county level. today we've improved that you can target down to the cell
sector, the individual cell t r tower. it will allow us to use against in the device to try to figure out if the device is within that target area that's identified by the alert authorities. we think this is going to be a significant improvement, that will help address that overalerting and benefit public safety and consumers. >> okay, very good. mr. matheny, one last question here. alerts over traditional broadcast networks have long been a reliable way and certainly we use broadcasts all the time in minnesota when we have floods, daily reports get out there for people. broadcasters are often able to continue operating during and after severe weather which we have in the midwest. with new technology broadcasters may soon be able to deliver additional information to viewers on fixed mobile and handheld devices. what level targeting will this new capability provide and what additional alerting measures can broadcasters make available? >> so i believe -- thank you, first of all. and i believe you're speaking of the next gen tv stand or the atc
3.0 and the advanced capabilities that are therein. >> that's a nice way of describe what i said in too simple of words, thank you. yes, that's exactly what i was talking about. >> the next gen tv stander first of all allows for waking up devices. so if a device is asleep it can be woken up. that's a distinct feature that was designed in. once the device is woken up you have the ability do targeting. the standard has just been completed and the actual implementation of that is -- is still being developed. but it will be similar to the -- what mr. bergmann just described in using the location of the device to determine if it's in the affected area. because we are still talking about a one-way broadcast delivery of the alert.
and additionally, the next gen standard allows for sending multimedia content. you could think of an evacuation map kro map, you would think of a tornado track map, like i said, an evacuation or even a video file that would come down and tell you explicitly what is happening. and that would be a video on demand file. now this would be in addition to the normal coverage that our stations provide. >> very good. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> she is looking for the vikings 3.0 too. >> this has nothing to do with the vikings, this is like about hawaii that doesn't have an nfl team. >> oh. >> i'd like to point out. or south dakota for that matter that then you decide you can take pot shots at my team. but let us not forget that catch. >> okay. we got to go back to the good
stuff. we have -- i have senator udall next but senator sullivan asked to preside on the floor. could he ask his questions next. >> thank you, senator udall and i'll just come clean we don't have an nfl team either. thank you have senator cap tee to -- cap tee toe. it relates to a very kind of -- a big event that occurred in alaska just on tuesday morning, very early in the morning a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit in the gulf of alaska. as a result of this earthquake, many of my constitch fwhents coastal communities were alerted to the threat of a tsunami and told to relocate inland. many did. it was pretty much in the middle of the night. however, some of our carriers were not able to sent
notification because of the lengthy and complicated process required by the fcc to set up emergency alerts on their systems. this is particularly the case with regard to some of our -- many of the carriers in alaska are small companies, so going through the lengthy process complicated process that the fcc puts a big burden on them, are there things that you are looking at with regard to streamlining the process to take into account some of the smaller companies that can participate? and also related there have been reports this several coastal alaska radio station disease not get their eas signal after the earthquake at all or got it 30 minutes after the wireless alerts went out on cell phones. you can speak to that and what you're trying to do on those issues? and i know i've asked a couple questions and i thank my colleagues again for indultion u dulgi -- indulging me here.
>> i'm not sure what they mean by a long process of the fcc. under the fcc's rules, if a wireless carrier wants to participate in wea, they send us a notification saying that they're electing to participate in part, which may mean some of their geographic service area but not others. or in part could also mean they're not offering wea on all of their cell phones. or they can elect to participate in full, which basically means they're participating across all their devices and all their geographic areas. once they've done that, the only thing for them to do is what other carriers would be required to do is to have the wea -- to be able to be offer the wea capable phones and to be able to make sure that their network is set up to receive wea alerts. but there's -- other than the
election itself, there isn't some drawn out process with the fcc that they would have to go through. >> okay. well maybe what we can do is work with you and some of our smaller carriers who have had concerns. and then on the question on the radio stations. >> that's something we are -- actually are looking into. the tsunami alert that occurred up in alaska, that's something that we can certainly look into and include in our investigation. >> good. because if we can learn from this, i mean, fortunately there was no tsunami but it was very scary for hundreds if not thousands of my constituents, it would be good to be able to learn from this so we can be ready next time. thank you. >> thank you have senator sullivan. senator udall. >> thank you, chairman thune and thanks to you and senator schatz for focussing on these very important questions. my understanding, some of your questions probably could have been answered by fema and fema
is not at this hearing and i know that you requested them, but it seems to me we should try to get some answers someway. i'm happy to participate in a letter or however you want to do that, but i think we need the answers to your questions based on the answers we've received from this panel which they don't seem to have the information. especially ms. fowlkes. fema, who we should be directing things to, don't you think on some of those questions you were unable to answer? you said didn't you have authority? >> to the extent that you're asking about anything other than the communication had our authority, our regulation of the communication service providers participation, i would agree. >> yeah. ms. fowlkes, it's my understanding that the states are required to file emergency alert st lerts system plans with the fcc. there are a few tribal nations.
are they under that same riefrmt filing? >> no, the tribal nation dos not have to file separate eas plans. what typically happens is to the extent that there are parts of tribal nations in states, those states take into account the need of those tribal nations. that's certainly how the new mexico state eas plan is set up. >> good. thank you. it's important to every bureau of the fcc to engage directly with tribal nations and have you had the opportunity to work with tribal nations on their unique public safety needs? >> certainly. for example, the public safety and homeland security bureau oversees and advisory committee, the communications security reliability and operability council. we have had representatives of
tribal nations serving on that committee. in addition to which we had a separate committee of 911 centers focused on next generation 911. we had representatives tribal nations on that committee as well. >> and as always of you probably know, it's very important to get these alerts out if you have wireless, but many of these tribal nations don't have it at all and so you're dealing with an additional huge hurdle in terms of getting emergency alerts and those kinds of things into tribal nations territory. mr. matheny, i appreciate the work that our local broadcasters do every day, but particularly in times of threats of public safety such as during wildfire season which we have in the southwest and we've seen at various places around the country. as you're aware, broadcasters in new mexico rely heavily on
broadcasters to serve rural communities and i'm worried that they could get left behind. it's my understanding that the current aloe kaftilocation of $1.75 million is not enough. is there a better estimate to ensure the translators do not go offline be in rural areas? >> thank you, sna udall. you are correct the 1.75 billion was allocated have some that's the number that i believe chairman pi testified to. >> yes. he is on the record saying there is not enough money. and we certainly don't believe there's enough money either. based on the initial results of the cost estimates submitted by tv stations, the real number's going tend to up being around
$3 billion. and so there's a substantial disconnect in the funds available and what's really going to be needed. and so we are certainly keen to see the viewer and listener protection act that senators maran and schatz have sponsored to take hold and get approved because we think it's going to be necessary to make sure the stations stay on the air and are able to continue to operate, including translators. and in the context of this hearing, that certainly means that emergency alerts are still going to be available to those populations. >> yeah. and i'm also an original cosponsor of that bill. i think we have to make this investment. i don't think there's any doubt about it. i've got a couple of additional questions but i'll submit them for the record. >> thank you, senator udall. your point's a good one. we did attempt to get fema here
and they need more lead time to prepare for this, maybe in light of what happened they need it. but i do think that there are questions that obviously fcc in this committee's jurisdiction fema is ghs, but only they and others can answer and i'm hoping that we'll be able by the time the field hearing in hawaii occurs to get the other parties to this discussion involved and engage and hopefully able to answer some of those questions. there still, to me, are unanswered questions. but i know there are attempts already legislatively to cure some of the problems that we had this time around. senator c api to. >> are you mr. chairman. i'm kind of going to go on the fema thing. i want to get in question on the record, ms. fowlkes. i'm pretty sure you don't know the answer to this question our don't have it, but think it's the one question that many people when they read the story at least at a cursory level sort of wondered and that is how is
it that a single government employee could trigger an alert without any kind of meaningful mechanism to sort of override or, you know, do you want to delete? do you want to delete? was there any -- and so do you have any light to the shed on that basic question? >> that's actually one of the issues that we're exploring as part of our investigation, what hawaii's process -- what happened and what hawaii's process was. >> i think we'll all be interested in hearing that. mr. matheny, were the warnings broadcast over tv? >> yes, they were. >> in a scroll kind of a thing or how was that present to the viewer? >> there were scrolls on tv and then an audio played on radio. >> okay. because i actually was talk with somebody yesterday who was there in a hotel room and they must have missed the first scroll on the tv but they did get the warning system through their phone, both of them.
they were visitors. but i wanted to tell senator schatz that the hotel they were staying in was right on top of it. they were -- a warning system through the entire hotel with directions as to what they should do, encouraging torve come in. i mean i'm sure it's frantic but to go to the basement. and so i would say since have you so many tourism and so many people staying in hotels, that's good to know that your tourism industry is reacting quickly to something like this. so that's one of the best practices that came through. and so let me ask, i also want to thank mr. ma thaptheny for t years ago i believe we would have lost more lives than we did had we knots had the rapid radio and the broadcasters. so thank you for thatnd at broadcasters for staying on the is. it wasn't a one-day story for us
and it wasn't treated as such by the broadcasters. >> sure. and thank you for recognizing that. i think that is one of the key elements of broadcasters is that they are local and part of the community. >> right. >> and committed to helping prepare weather and recover. >> right. mr. bergmann, let me ask you a real simple question here. if you're in a no service area on your phone, do you get these alerts? >> so you need to be within the coverage area in order to receive a wireless emergency alert, which really does put a premium on the conversation we were having earlier about make sure we're doing everything we can to make coverage available in rural areas. >> this is a major issue for us, not just on the wireless side but obviously on the broadband side. and we have, in our state, particular challenges because of the rural nature, but also the geographic nature of the state of west virginia makes it difficult. but when i can drive eight miles outside of my capital city and lose coverage, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. i know you know this. so i just wanted to reemphasize
that. and lastly i just tell a little story on december the 7th, 1941 my uncle was stationed at the schofield barracks in hawaii when pearl harbor was attacked. and my mother was 15 at the time. and the one story that she told us that was kind of interesting, especially in this day and time when you're talking about instantaneous messages an instantaneous retraction of messages within 40 minutes which sounds like a lifetime, but she told me that if it weren't for the ham radio operators, her parents would have never known that their son was okay. but it took days for it to come across the country. and i'm sure some of those messages were not quite as positive as the ones my grandparents and mother received that day. so mr. lis senco, your organization's long history is much appreciated. >> amateur radio was also involved in the effort to
achieve normalcy in hawaii after the false alarm. as a matter of fact, hawaii, the radio amateur civil emergency service in hawaii activated uhf and vhf and they monitored the alerts and cancellations. ironically, 20 hours earlier they had drilled with the hawaii state emergency management this kind of scenario. and so 20 hours later there it was right in our face. we had operators present at the emergency operation center and at the state warning point for hawaii emergency management. the false alarm was on various information mechanisms within 13 minutes. and amateur radio operators started to pass that message along whereas the false alarm notice came 38 minutes from the initial alarm. amateur radio operators were trained in hawaii to listen to specific types of siren
wailings, and each one would determine what kind of emergency there was. there was no siren and so that led to a tremendous amount of confusion. they also received reports from a coast guard vessel relaying the cancellation notice before the official cancellation notice came out. so amateur radio operators knew pretty much earlier than anybody else as to what was going on and did start sending that message along. >> the other issue i'll just say briefly, if i could take just a few more seconds, that i think is real in relaying the story of the folks that were in hawaii visiting, the skepticism over this is a set of and real, even though it was explained that it was real, i do think if we perfect the system we won't have this testing fatigue or, you know, where you're getting test and you know nothing's really happening. and i think that's our immediate response sometimes. and so i think the better the system gets and more reliable, the less frequently it needs to be tested. and -- or you can test it in
different places and the don't have to test it always at the same site will really go to this sort of mentality of well this is a false alarm, it's not really happening, i'm going to wait it out and wait and see what happens. so i encourage all your efforts in that. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator capito. >> thank you, mr. chairman, very much, and i'm just referring back to an earlier conversation on the committee. i just want everyone to know that there is actually a professional football team from massachusetts, and it will be playing in about ten days in a game out in minnesota. so i just want everyone to be on notice, to be looking for that. mr. bergman, you said that the rule will be implemented in 2019 to increase the character count for mobile emergency alerts from 90 to 360. can we get it done more quickly than 2019? how can we telescope the time frame to get this done? it's obviously a big problem.
>> thanks, senator. and certainly, we do think that additional capability, having those additional characters, will be helpful, will let us pass on more information to consumers, let public safety explain situations better to consumers. we are certainly an industry about overdelivering, so we've hit every deadline that -- so far in terms of warren act implementation. we certainly want to try to do that again here as well. >> so you can get -- you could set a goal of completing it in 2018? >> well, you know, i wouldn't want to get ahead of the fcc's current deadline, which is may of 2019, but we'll be doing everything we can to hit that deadline and if we can, beat it. >> i think we already saw that deadline as a little too far out. we obviously need to deal with the problem. so let's just talk, for example, about what could happen at a meltdown at the pilgrim nuclear power plant in massachusetts.
which is at the bottom of the list of best-managed nuclear power plants in the united states. and of course, people in cape cod would have to actually ride past the plant to evacuate, so it gets a little bit more complicated. so i guess my question to you would be, when this event just occurred in hawaii, the message was ballistic missile threat inbound to hawaii, seek immediate shelter, this is not a drill. so what would be the message that went off the emergency -- what would be the information that was communicated to people? there was a nuclear power plant meltdown. and where would they be told to go? would they be told to shelter in place? here, there was no additional information. where do you go? what do you do? people were just running crazily around town. so if there was a nuclear meltdown, we still have 100 plants in america and it's clear that an accident can happen. fukushima is the most recent, but it is possible.
should there be more information information, ms. fowlkes, which is part of the message that is sent out so it not only warns people but gives them a little bit of guidance as well with more than 90, perhaps, with as many as 360 characters, you know, so that there's guidance that families receive. >> well, one of the -- the main reason why the commission expanded the -- the character limit of the alert from 90 to 360 was because of the need to provide more information in addition to which the commissions also adopted rules that would allow for the alerts to include embedded references. originally, the rules did not allow telephone numbers or url link into the alert. the commission has now given the
advancement in technology, decided to allow those to be included. there are certainly other issues that are before the commission that we are considering in terms of other types of information or additional information that can be provided. >> yeah, so, i think that's very important, and i think it has to be tailored, because people would want to know, do i shelter in place or do i just run crazily out into the street and head towards what could be the problem? and i think that's really one of the big issues that has been identified, and we're going to have to clarify that. and just going back to the hawaii incident, i don't know how much thought has been put into this question of state control versus federal control, because obviously, the north koreans could also make a miscalculation if they think
that we are preparing for nuclear war. if they think that the united states might have a hair trigger response capacity, you know, that is going to be triggered by this emergency evacuation plan that has been triggered. so, has anyone thought through that reality, that the north koreans could completely misinterpret what is going on and actually move them closer to their own hair trigger, just to prepare, because the united states might be actually on the verge of attacking? has anyone thought through that issue as well? >> from the fcc standpoint, we're at -- as you know, we're focused on the communication distribution side. that's another issue where i would have to refer you to fema and dhs. >> yeah, and i think -- >> for those decisions. >> and i think decisions like that should be made by the
president and by the pentagon and not by state officials. i think it's absolutely imperative that it be put in that larger context of understanding how the north koreans might be responding, because it's already too close, the hair trigger between our two countries, too many threats have already been issued so a misreading of that by the north koreans could have actually resulted in a much more catastrophic situation. so thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator markey. senator cantwell is next. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and ranking member. thank you for holding this hearing when it comes to the pacific northwest, i guarantee you with tsunamis and earthquakes and volcanos, flooding, woryou name it, we pa lot of attention to disaster issues and i'm reminded, having been on the committee for some time, our former colleagues
spent a lot of time on the development of what is the bowie system, which is our earliest detection on the waves so that we can have this information and now noaa is working very diligently on interpretation of that activity so we can get the information to hand held devices. so it is -- i think we need to be thankful that we've made the investment in technology. i think the question becomes, who in the federal government owns the protocols for making sure that the coordination happens at the state and local level if so many of the partners in the development of that communication or the communication itself, for example, the weather service, who i know isn't with us this morning, how do we make sure that that, you know, information is there? so, for us, out on the long beach peninsula, this issue is a very big issue. we have established warning sirens and warning information,
but -- and i think the scientists at noaa would tell us this is what we should be developing but now we have a very rural, isolated community trying to figure out how to deal with the tsunami. many people may remember the story that the new yorker wrote a few years back, the big one. i never heard from so many of my friends around the united states when that article appeared. we train constantly on this as a coordinated effort between homeland security, our national guard, our local responders, but who owns, at the federal level, thinking through what this communication protocol should actually look like and how we establish safeguards within the protocol so these kinds of mistakes or information gaps are avoided in the future? because we want to continue with the information. that's for sure.
does anybody have a thought on that? ms. flowers. >> in terms of the communication service provider side, certainly the fcc works with the service providers. we have rules that apply in terms of how they're supposed to react, in terms of receiving and transmitting the alerts. on the alert -- on the alert origination side, on the fema side, i'd have to refer more to them. i will say that just in terms of general coordination, the fcc has, at times, coordinated -- well, not just at times, but regularly coordinates with fema in terms of things such as testing or -- or some of -- dealing with some of the issues that go to our rule making.
to give you an example, with respect to the eas, there's a lot of states on the -- particularly on the western side of the country who do tsunami and earthquake tests, and they want to use the live code eas, which, under our rules, you can't use unless it's an actual emergency. we have waived our rules to allow the broadcasters, the cable operators, to transmit that live code test as part of the broader tsunami exercise that fema may be doing with a state or local government. >> this isn't -- you know, i'm not trying to stump the panel. it's more that i think we have a gap here. and i know in our state, because of the national guard and the
tech sector are so strong, they've established what they call hygiene issues for cyber security. here are the ten things that you should follow for good cyber security hygiene. somewhere, it seems to me that we need this protocol list of, here's what emergency response should look like, and here are the safeguards that should be in place. whether you're talking about a county or a state or, you know, the federal system, because we're going to keep marching ahead. we need this -- we need the information. we desperately want this kind of -- when it's an earthquake, you only have, you know, you might only have minutes to respond. and because, as i said, this article about the big one in the northwest, we want to see this data and information. but we also want to make sure that like the things that happened in hawaii also have new safeguards for false alarms. and i remember a senator talking
about a previous moment in hawaii's history, prior to all this technology, where they had, i think it went on for hours, they thought a tsunami wave was going to hit, and so this went on for hours and hours, and that's why we developed the system so the bowie system did work in kodiak. it gave people time to understand from the science level that the wave was not going to be that great. so, we want the technology, but we need some protocols as to how it's used and how to make sure that there are some safeguards there for the public. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator cantwell. >> thank you. and thank you for being here today, and i do wish that fema had been here. i think they would have been an integral part of this discussion. i echo a lot of the concerns from my colleagues that i've heard today and appreciate your candid comments as well about the challenges we still have moving forward but the good things that are happening with the alerts. one of the things that i do have
concerns about, particularly in the state of nevada where we have a very diverse and growing population, are language barriers. i know ms. fowlkes and mr. bergman, you talked a little bit about this and the actions that were taken in 2016 to enable spanish language alerts. can you talk a little bit more about that and describe how that works to ensure understandable alerts are sent to everyone? and not just spanish language alone. in nevada, particularly in southern nevada, we have a large filipino population, tagalog is an important language, obviously, and that's a barrier for those who do not speak spanish. so can you talk a little bit about language barriers and how you address those and what we should be doing to keep that in mind when we're talking about reaching out to everyone in our communities when there is a crisis or concern of a natural daser. >> well, as you noted, the
commission, back in 2016, adopted rules to facilitate spanish language alerts. duo currently have the broader issue that is pending before us that we're still considering regarding other languages. and to what extent w.e. alerts -- we should will looking at w.e. alerts in other types of languages. >> not there yet, though? >> not there. it's pending. >> and then, mr. bergman, if you don't mind talking a little bit about how you -- particularly with spanish, how you overcome that barrier with the technology. >> sure, senator. i think we certainly agree with you and think that's an important improvement. it's one that we're working diligently to implement. and then just would flag, again, the addition of urls plays an important role as well too.
because we think often of w.e. as a bell ringer. the idea is that you're letting folks know there's an issue and then giving them the opportunity to go and get additional information. so, together, those two tools will be valuable for consumers, particularly for those who speak languages other than english as well too. >> thank you. and besides language barriers and i echo my colleagues again, there's geographic barriers, rural communities, particularly in nevada and across the country that are still struggling to have broad band access and access to be able to use some of the technology that's out there that's providing this information. i know this is an area where we've talked and will continue to support, to bring resources and funding to our rural communities to connect them, but to me, this is just a crisis as well. that they are not connected right now, and it's a focus for many of us. let me ask you this. cyber security. is there any concern about hackers hacking into an alert
system in any manner whatsoever? have we seen any of that, or is it something that you're thinking about or making sure you're addressing in the infrastructure? >> the fcc has addressed the issue of cyber security, particularly with respect to the eas with its advisory committee. you may or may not recall that back in 2013, a hacker gained access to eas equipment at various broadcast stations across the country. we conducted investigation. we asked our advisory -- and we asked our advisory committee to come up with best practices that eas participants could use to make their equipment more secure. in addition to which the fcc, through its advisory committees has developed best practices for really all the communication
sectors to address security risk management, specifically how to implement the nist framework. >> the best practices are there but there's no guarantee that they're going to be adopted. >> we have taken steps to strongly encourage communication service providers to implement those best practices. we also work with industry organizations, and some of the -- many of the industry organizations, for example, n.a.b., has done a lot to encourage its members to implement those best practices. >> right. but we're still at the stage of encouragement and not necessarily mandated that these be implemented, right? >> yes. >> thank you. i appreciate the conversation today. >> thank you, senator. senator duckworth. >> thank you. i wanted to thank the chair and
the ranking member for today's hearing. i also want to thank our witnesses for participating in this very important discussion. as a graduate -- a proud graduate of the university of hawaii, go rainbows? no one else? there's never anybody from my alma mater. not even you. what does that say? but you know, hawaii's recent false alarm is a fascinating test case, i think, because for federal and state and local policymakers. on one hand, it worked exactly the way it was supposed to. it was a false alarm but the execution of the alarm actually worked. as it was designed. a message was sent by an alerting authority and effectively disseminated to the targeted population. on the other hand, it was sent in error, terrifying the entire state for nearly an hour. i actually landed in south korea on my way to the dmz when i -- when it popped up on my phone, saying this had happened. and so, you know, the situation
really exposed some gaps in the training processes anderi ergonomics of the software. it seems to me that the questions raised and the gaps identified in the hawaii case focus more on alerting authorities and fema jurisdiction than the fcc and the alerting disseminators. would you agree with that? >> yes. i would. i agree with the way you outlined it, which is that the broadcast infrastructure worked. the transmission worked. the message did get out. unfortunately, in this case, it was a mistaken message. and so i think that as we've been discussing today, it requires us all, in particular on the fema side, to revisit who can generate an alert and how that alert is generated. but as it relates to the dissemination and the transmission, i think, as you've
stated, that piece of the process worked as designed. >> senator, i would agree as well too. on the wireless side, the alert was delivered exactly as intended and i think one of the key focuses of this hearing is making sure that we have public trust and confidence in the system and i think we can certainly say we have that on the delivery side. understand the committee's appropriate focus on making sure that that trust extends across the entire system, but the system performed well on the wireless side. >> great. thank you. and so i want to sort of contrast that with something that my league, senator sullivan, talked about, the recent tsunami warning in alaska. i think that's more of an appropriate test case where an emergency alert was sent to a wide swath of residents, many who were in the danger zone but then a lot of folks who were outside of the danger zone and probably did not need to be alerted. the alaska example exposes a potential gap in the wireless
emergency alert system's effectiveness in large, rural environments and i had the situation in illinois where i have chicago -- i have a couple of, you know, major metropolitan areas but then large, rural communities. so my understanding is that in anchorage, residents received an alert at 12:36 a.m. even though they were not in the danger zone, geographically, and i can appreciate alerting authorities interest in erring on the sited of cauti -- side of caution, but it seems technology limitations played a role in that. senator sullivan touched on this, but has the fcc done any after action analysis of alaska's recent tsunami warning to determine the effectiveness in this instance? >> we are in the process of looking into it, yes. >> do you have any idea how long that review might take? or if we'll be able to see the results. >> at this point, i can't give a
specific timeline, but as always, my team moves very carefully and very expeditiously. >> wonderful. mr. bergman, what can you tell us about the effectiveness of geotargeting technology and where are the gaps? which emergency situation is weas least suited and where should industry, the fcc, and congress focus our attention, and is there an issue with somebody who may have the gps locator turned off on their phones. >> thank you, senator. i think you've put your finger on one of the most important improvements we're poised to make, which is improving the geotargeting and the example that you talked about, this is exactly why we think about alerts is trying to target it to the folks who are actually in danger and not over alerting. so, there are two components to that. one, we've implemented now, which is taking advantage of greater capabilities within network to go below the county level so that alert originators can draw the polygon, the geographic area they want to reach. they can do that today. the next step in that will be
taking advantage not just of the network but also of the capabilities in the device. so there, turning on features like location is obviously critically important to that. we want to make sure that you can take advantage of that location information in order to appropriately geotarget it. now, the -- i think a comforting piece of information there is, if the geotargeting is turned off, they'll still receive the message so it's not as if the consumer would not receive the message in that circumstance. >> thank you. and i'm out of time. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. senator wicker. >> thank you for being here and thank you for your written testimony. page nine of your written testimony, you talk about the hawaii amateur radio operators during the recent false alarm. how were these operators able to
disseminate a cancellation notice about hawaii's ballistic missile false alarm before others were able to do so? and can you explain how amateur radios were able to provide that notice before others? >> senator wicker, first, let me start by thanking you for your continuing support of amateur radio and your bill s-1534. >> thank you. and i might point out that senator blumenthal is co-sponsor of that and i appreciate his bipartisan support for this. >> thank you. as i had mentioned earlier, ironically, amateur radio members in hawaii had just been drilling 20 hours before the actual false alarm. so everything was fresh on their minds. now, because they are able to work outside of the local infrastructure and they were not participants within the actual initial notification, they got
word out through various vhf and uhf repeaters about the false alarm. within 13 minutes after the initial alarm. they were picking up information from various sources, including a coast guard vessel that was just outside of the area and as a result, because they didn't -- because they were able to disseminate that information freely within the 13 minutes they were able to get that word out right away. whereas there was a lot of confusion in the area to them as well because they were taught to listen for a certain type of siren warning that never came, so they were dependent upon information that they were gleaning from within the community itself. >> okay. well, let me then switch to
katrina. why, in situations like hurricane katrina, are the amateur radios so much more resilient and able to be there as a back-up to the more well-known forms? >> well, for a number of reasons. first of all, we're not dependent upon the infrastructure to operate. if power goes down, we are able to use generators, solar power panels, batteries, what have you. and we -- and because we understand how radio works, we're able to adapt very quickly to any situation, whereas most first responders are using technology that they really can't adapt to, given the situation, because they don't have a basic understanding.
we're able to walk into a situation, take a notice of the surroundings, what kind of operation would be effective at that point, and then move along those lines very quickly. the big thing is that when all else fails, we really are able to provide emergency communications as required. >> okay. so, things are okay. but why is the -- why is the new legislation so important? what would it give us that we don't have? >> well, you have to remember that amateur radio is unique in that we are disseminated geographically throughout the entire country. so very often what will happen is we'll have amateur radio operators both within and outside of a disaster area. that gives us a unique ability to disseminate information from within a disaster zone that others don't have. and the fact that we're not
dependent upon the infrastructure then gives us the ability to work outside of it. so that -- for instance, during sandy, i'm from -- if you can't tell from my accent, i'm from brooklyn. we had devastation throughout the coasts of both new jersey and new york going out to long island. flooding was so severe that we had people who were stuck in their homes, obviously, waiting for help. we had amateur radio operators who are inside of the flood zone, and were able to send messages to first responders outside of the flood zone as to where people needed help and very often in an emergency of that nature, it's as important to know where you need help and where you don't need help so you don't waste the resources that you have, which are limited during a disaster. so you don't want to send a first responder to the wrong address when there's nobody there to save. and we learned that it's that
dissemination of resource that is a strong point for us. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator wicker. senator, anything else for the good of the order? >> well, i think we've pretty well covered the subject today. with the folks that are here. and as i mentioned earlier, there are some folks who are not here, i think, who could shed considerable light on some of the other aspects of the way this process works but it's clear to me, at least, and i think most of the members of the this committee that we need to make some changes, at least with respect to the kind of alert that was issued in hawaii. when it's a nuclear attack, i think the chain in that alert system needs to be modified to reflect the seriousness of the threat, not that any of them aren't serious, but obviously this is a very different -- this is a very different sort of threat. so -- but, thank you so much for
the work that your various organizations do and alerting the public and encourage you to continue to work to develop and refine those processes and technologies so that we can become even better and hopefully more efficient in seeing that people have the notifications they need in the face of various disasters that come our way. so, thank you. we will keep the record open for members on the committee who would like to submit questions for a couple of weeks and would ask the witnesses as soon as they can to get those responses in, preferably in a couple weeks' time so we can close out the record of the hearing. and we, again, appreciate all of you being here today. with that, this hearing is adjourned.
be refined and it takes legislation to do that, we'll certainly take a look at it. >> you'll talk with fema officials and others to sort of gather more information or what's your next step? >> well, i think it is. there's -- there will be, we think, at least, there will be a dhs authorization bill moving at some point and so if there were an opportunity to legislate in this space, it would probably be in conjunction with that bill. but we're going to have another hearing, follow-up hearing, field hearing out in hawaii. we haven't stated the date on that yet, but so we'll get, hopefully be able to get fema and some of the other folks that weren't able to be here today at that hearing and we'll continue to sort of drill down and figure out what needs to be fixed and how to do that. what's the best way to do that. >> do you have a sense of how soon a field hearing might be? even if there's not a specific date. >> we're still discussing it. trying to figure out when we can do it to kind of maximize the opportunity for members to attend, which getting to hawaii usually means it's got to be
over one of the congressional work period breaks, so we'll figure that out and let you guys know when we know when that is. >> you heard senator cantwell talk about tsunami alert. there's other alert systems that work just like hawaii. >> yeah, and that's why i think that, you know, we have to figure out, in this case, the way i understand the way it worked, fema through this system can delegate out, in this case, it was to a state agency, some of that responsibility for, you know, the alert. and then -- and whether or not that process needs to modified is something we'll take a look at. clearly, in the event of a nuclear attack, that's -- that's norad, that's presidential and i think that's what senator schotts is attempting to get out with his bill, which makes sense to a lot of us.
but we definitely need to figure out what happened this time from happening again, and we're still trying to put all those pieces together. >> would that fall under the jurisdiction of your committee. >> probably not. his bill will be under his deck. >> so you would not have a mark-up then. >> well, we probably wouldn't unless there was something in it that triggered our jurisdiction but unless it's a -- if it has fcc components in it, then it would come under our committee's jurisdiction. so we'll take a look at that and what he's proposing and see if there are other things as we take into consideration what we've heard today and then at the subsequent field hearing and see if there are other things, like i said, that we can do to refine and make this system work better and hopefully avoid the -- what i think was a very, you know, potentially catastrophic situation. but if nothing else, certainly embarrassing situation. >> i wonder if that framework you were talking about for best practices, maybe that would be
under your jurisdiction so maybe you might have a piece of it. >> that's true. that's why we asked the question today. of the fcc and you know, clearly they don't have the authority right now to do that. so that's something we'd have a take a look at. >> thank you. >> ms. fol f fowlkes, thank you being here.
attorney general jeff sessions will be in norfolk, virginia, to discuss immigration issues and priorities of the trump administration. live coverage starts at 1:30 p.m. eastern on our companion network, c-span. tonight, american history tv is in primetime. we'll look at a discussion on abraham lincoln's friends and enemies before and after his presidency. at the lincoln forum's annual symposium in gettysburg, pennsylvania. speakers include scholars, authors, and professors. american history tv in primetime tonight begins at 8:00 eastern. and primetime on c-span, president trump's address from the world economic forum in davos, switzerland. he's the first sitting u.s. president to speak at the forum since president clinton. you can see that tonight starting at 8:00 eastern on c-span. the presi o
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