WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Friday passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement Act.
The bipartisan legislation, authored by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), will ensure more people receive relevant emergency alerts on their mobile phones, televisions and radios. It authorizes the exploration of new ways of alerting the public through online video and audio-streaming services, tracks and studies false alerts when they occur, and improves the way states plan for emergency alerts.
“When a missile alert went out across Hawai‘i in 2018, some people never got the message on their phones, while others missed it on their TVs and radios,” said Schatz.
”Even though it was a false alarm, the missile alert highlighted real ways we can improve the way people get emergency alerts,” said Schatz, lead Democrat on the Senate Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Subcommittee.
“Our bill, which will soon become law, fixes some of these issues, and will help make sure that, in an emergency, the public gets the right information — on their phones, TVs, radios and computers — as quickly as possible.”
The Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts System ensure that the public is quickly informed about emergency alerts issued by federal, state, tribal and local governments and delivered over the radio, television and mobile wireless devices.
These announcements keep the public safe and informed and have ever-increasing importance in the wake of the emergencies and disasters Americans faced throughout 2020.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency administers the platform government agencies use to originate alerts, while the Federal Communications Commission oversees the systems used to distribute the alerts over broadcast and mobile wireless networks.