The Partnership for Public Warning sent Secretary of Homeland Security Thomas Ridge an assessment of the Emergency Alert System and recommendations for strengthening it.
It was prepared by emergency managers and public warning experts from various government and private organizations. It cites challenges that have diminished the effectiveness of EAS as a public warning system.
Among the concerns: "National cable program suppliers and other national networks are not part of the national level EAS; the current system includes outdated plans, missing communication links and inadequate training; and no significant effort has been made to incorporate new technologies such as cell phones and pagers," states PPW.
The group asks the Department of Homeland Security, among other things, to provide management oversight of the EAS system and guidance on new technologies; upgrade the Primary Entry Point system; designate EAS responsibilities among various authorities; and provide funding to operate EAS.
The group's chairman, William Craig Fugate, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, stated, "We once had a strong civil defense program that tested warning systems and educated the public. Unfortunately, with the end of the Cold War, we became complacent and paid little attention to issues such as the Emergency Alert System.
"Sept. 11, 2001 was a wake-up call," Fugate stated. "Adoption of the PPW recommendations can result in a more effective EAS quickly and for relatively little money."
Read the EAS assessment at www.partnershipforpublicwarning.org.
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