FCC seeks guidance on potential EAS changes

The Federal Communication Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau March 25 asked for comments regarding whether changes to Part 11 Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules will be necessary when a new alerting protocol begins being used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The new protocol, known as the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), is a new data interchange format for collecting and distributing safety notifications to a variety of information networks, public safety alerting systems and personal communications devices.

The FCC EAS rules (47 C.F.R. Part 11) were not written with CAP-based EAS in mind. As a result, “significant revision or replacement” of the rules may be necessary once CAP is instituted by FEMA, the FCC notice announcing the request for informal comment said.

In the notice, the bureau asked for commenters to identify rules that should be changed or dropped and to offer new rules or a rules framework for CAP-based EAS. The bureau also asked commenters to address rules covering ‘CAP-based EAS system architecture, equipment requirements, organization, operations, testing, and access for people with disabilities and non-English speakers.”

Additionally, the bureau asked for comments on rule changes related to the CAP-based Next Generation EAS architecture. The bureau also asked for comment on whether the structure and content of state EAS Plans covered by section 11.21 of EAS rules should be changed to accommodate CAP, and if so, how.

The bureau also asked for comment on what rules should be changed, if any, to make sure people with disabilities and those who don’t speak English have access to CAP-based EAS.