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Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment On Response Efforts Undertaken During 2017 Hurricane Season

December 19th, 2017 / in Announcements, CCC / by Helen Wright

The following is a public notice from the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, who are seeking comments on the 2017 hurricane season response efforts

DA 17-1180

Released December 7, 2017


PS Docket No. 17-344

Comments Due: January 22, 2018

Reply Comments Due: February 21, 2018


The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB or Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) seeks comment on the resiliency of the communications infrastructure, the effectiveness of emergency communications, and government and industry responses to the 2017 hurricane season. Of particular note, the 2017 season included four hurricanes which made landfall in the United States and its territories. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate led to Presidential emergency or major disaster declarations for seven states and two territories. These storms devastated communities and the communications networks that service them. As emphasized by Chairman Pai, “Access to reliable communications services during times of emergency is critical to enabling Americans in danger to request help and our heroic first responders to do their jobs.” The purpose of this Public Notice is to seek information to better understand how well such access was provided during these hurricanes in order to assess what lessons may be learned for the future.

The FCC was created to, inter alia, ensure the availability of a “Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities . . . for the purpose of the national defense . . . [and] for the purpose of promoting safety of life and property.” The FCC must also, “for the purpose of obtaining maximum effectiveness from the use of radio and wire communications in connection with safety of life and property,” study the “best methods of obtaining the cooperation and coordination of these [radio and wire] systems.” Under the Homeland Security Act, the FCC shares responsibilities with other federal and state authorities for the “coordination of effective multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency emergency communications networks for use during natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.” In response to emergencies, disasters and other significant events, the FCC engages in a wide range of efforts under its various sources of authority to address the communications needs in the affected areas, such as coordinating on frequency assignment and allocation with federal partners, participating in whole-of-government response coordination efforts, and issuing public notices, orders, and waivers. The Commission also provides situational awareness of the communications infrastructure through radiofrequency monitoring and analysis and reporting from the data filed voluntarily by communications service providers in the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS).

Request for Comment

PSHSB seeks comment on the questions below. The Bureau will identify, from the comments received, areas for further exploration in workshop(s) to be held in the coming months on improving future response efforts.

Questions Regarding Impacts to Communications Infrastructure

  1. What were the major causes of communications outages due to the hurricanes? Were there unique factors that affected outages and/or resilience during any particular hurricane?
  2. What were the cascading effects of communications outages? Did communications service outages have impacts on supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADAs) of other critical infrastructure?
  3. To what extent was the communications infrastructure resilient to the hurricanes? What methods were employed prior to hurricane landfall to address infrastructure resiliency?
  4. Are there industry best practices that address communications operations in high risk areas (g., flood, high-wind areas)? If so, were these practices implemented and did they prevent and/or mitigate outages? To what extent do these best practices involve cross-industry and/or government participation and was such participation effective?

Questions Regarding the FCC’s Response

  1. Are there actions that the FCC could take to improve the support and coordination it provides to industry and government (federal and SLTT) partners? For example, was the FCC support to Emergency Support Function #2 effective
  2. Are there any actions that the FCC should consider to improve the communications industry response to hurricanes? If so, what would those be?
  3. The FCC provided information to the industry and the public before and during the course of hurricane season. For example, the FCC released public notices providing information, including but not limited to, emergency contact information for the FCC’s 24/7 center and process guidance on seeking waivers/STAs. The FCC also created event-specificwebpages to share information such as communications status reports, public notices, and orders. Was this information helpful? Is there additional information or assistance that the FCC should provide at the beginning or during an event


To see all the questions and how to file comments, please read more here


Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment On Response Efforts Undertaken During 2017 Hurricane Season