The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released a report concluding that the FCC generally is prepared for emergencies, but certain areas of readiness can and will be improved. The report, which comprehensively reviewed the FCC’s ability to respond to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, public health emergencies, and other large scale emergencies, is the culmination of a top-to-bottom state-of-readiness review that FCC Chairman Genachowski initiated upon arriving at the FCC.
According to the report, “the FCC’s primary mission is to ensure continuous operations and reconstitution of critical communications systems and services” during major public emergencies. Over the years, the FCC has developed comprehensive plans and capabilities for responding in emergency situations, which includes working with other federal agencies and members of the communications industry. The report, however, identifies several areas in which the FCC can and intends to improve its emergency planning and response, including:
- Expanding its cyber security expertise;
- Expanding its public safety and emergency response outreach activities;
- Enhancing the ability for emergency personnel to remotely access essential FCC applications and databases;
- Expanding its emergency response and continuity training; and
- Modernizing its disaster outage and priory services programs.
As part of its efforts to improve its emergency preparedness and track problems within U.S. communications networks, the FCC is considering requiring broadband Internet service providers to file outage data, as more traditional communications providers are required to do. Such a mandate, however, may well require an act of Congress to expand the FCC’s Title I ancillary authority over information services.