FCC to Assess Results of Nationwide WEA/EAS Test

The FCC plans to assess the results of today’s nationwide wireless emergency alert/Emergency Alert System test, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Lisa Fowlkes said in a blog posting. “Now that the nationwide test is complete, the next step is to assess the results and identify areas for improvement. The FCC is committed to working with FEMA and other stakeholders to support this effort,” she said.

“We plan to engage with FEMA and wireless providers to learn how today’s Wireless Emergency Alert test performed.  In addition, the radio and television providers that participated in the accompanying Emergency Alert System test will file reports with us about their experience receiving and retransmitting FEMA’s test message.  As we’ve done in the past, we will analyze that data to identify any necessary EAS improvements.  We also welcome feedback from the public about their experience with the test on both systems.  We look forward to assessing all the information available and doing our part to continue strengthening these life-saving alerting systems.”

Courtesy TRDaily

DAC Recommends IP CTS Metrics, TRS Access at Emergency Shelters

In its last meeting under its current charter, the FCC’s Disability Advisory Committee today approved recommendations to the FCC regarding the compatibility of real-time text (RTT) with refreshable Braille displays, the integration of RTT in telecommunications relay service (TRS) operations, metrics for Internet protocol captioned telephone service (IP CTS), and access to TRS at emergency shelters.

The emergency shelter recommendation urges the FCC to extend its June ruling to allow all TRS providers to be compensated for calls by unregistered TRS users from temporary TRS devices in emergency shelters, and for the FCC to issue an annual public notice to inform emergency shelter providers as well as TRS providers and individuals that TRS calls from emergency shelters will be reimbursable if the shelters provide telecommunications services to the general public. Continue reading

Vetting Underway for FirstNet Board Picks

ORLANDO — The federal government is vetting Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s picks for six open seats on the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) board, National Telecommunications and Information Administration head David J. Redl told reporters today at the Competitive Carriers Association’s Annual Convention here. Mr. Redl noted that candidates must fill out forms on any conflicts of interest, adding, “We’re in the process of finalizing the secretary’s picks through the process.” He said he did not want to guess when that process might be completed.

Courtesy TRDaily

Panelists Point to Increasing 5G, IoT Public Safety Role

The move to 5G and the increasing availability of Internet of things (IoT) devices will bring numerous benefits — along with some challenges — to public safety operations as the country moves toward next-generation 911 (NG-911) services, speakers said today at a Telecommunications Industry Association event.

“Creating a strong, nationwide 5G infrastructure will allow public safety answering points and first responders to rely on the Internet of Things to carry out their crucial mission effectively and efficiently,” TIA Chief Executive Officer Wes Johnston said. The deployment of IoT devices will also present “new challenges” for public safety officials, he said, ranging from implementation costs to concerns about interoperability between new and existing technologies.

“In order to fully harness the potential of these emerging technologies, industry experts are going to have to work hand in hand with first responders and government officials to ensure a smooth and seamless integration of next generation technologies into the evolving existing public safety networks,” Mr. Johnston said.

There is “quite a bit of focus” in Congress on IoT issues, Rep. Susan Brooks (R., Ind.) said at the event, adding communications systems need to optimized to ensure the “incredible skills” of the nation’s first responders can be deployed effectively.

“[I]f they can’t communicate and they arrive [at a scene] and can’t find out what the game plan is, then, quite frankly, it’s an incredible waste of resources and it impedes their ability to save lives,” Rep. Brooks said.  “In this incredibly … fast-paced world, it’s just so easy for us to take for granted the fact that we have these technologies, but yet we’ve got to make sure that they work.”

It is important that Congress explore how 5G “can help us save lives and enhance public safety communications,” Ms. Brooks said. She pointed to her state’s implementation of text-to-911 as a sign of how important new technologies can be to enhancing emergency services. Continue reading

First-Ever Nationwide Presidential WEA Test Set for Oct. 3

A nationwide test of emergency alerts using the presidential-level code, which is reserved for serious public perils such as an attack on the U.S., will be conducted tomorrow at 2:18 p.m. EDT via mobile phones and at 2:20 p.m. EDT via television and radio. While presidential alert messages have been sent to televisions and radios through broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireless video providers for the past three years, this is the first time that the message will also be sent to mobile phones.

Data is being collected and shared to evaluate the test results, but no data is being collected from wireless carriers about individual customers, a senior FCC official said during a conference call with reporters today. As a result, she said, individuals should not have any privacy concerns.

The wireless emergency alerts (WEA) are expected to reach 75% of all mobile phones, or about 225 million devices, according to a senior official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is coordinating the test with the Federal Communications Commission and the National Weather Service.

While wireless carriers are not legally obligated to participate, all the major carriers have agreed to transmit the message, the official said. The message will not be sent to landlines.

The expected failure of the message to reach 25% of mobile phones is attributed to one or more of the following causes: (1) the device has configuration issues preventing the display of the message; (2) the user is on the phone, and the message will not interrupt an ongoing call; or (3) a data session is running, and the message will not interrupt an ongoing data session. Continue reading

FCC Urged to Adopt Indoor 911 Z-Axis Accuracy Standard

A technology vendor and a locality have urged the FCC to adopt a 911 Z-Axis indoor location accuracy standard that is more precise than one proposed by national wireless carriers.

The comments were filed in PS docket 07-114 in response to an industry proposal for a z-axis, or vertical, standard submitted in August.

In the industry proposal, which was submitted by an FCC-mandated deadline that was set in a 2015 order (TR Daily, Jan. 29, 2015), the carriers recommended a z-axis metric “of +/- 5 meters for 80% of fixes from mobile devices capable of delivering barometric pressure sensor-based altitude estimates” (TR Daily, Aug. 7).

The industry proposal was included in a cover letter to a report on the results of indoor location accuracy testing conducted by a test bed established by CTIA on behalf of the industry. The report recommended additional testing.

Yesterday, as TR Daily reported (TR Daily, Oct. 1), public safety entities filed comments expressing their opposition to the z-axis standard proposed by the carriers and pushing for a more precise metric. In its comments, CTIA said the Commission should not adopt the standard and should instead allow the industry to conduct further testing.

In its comments yesterday, NextNav LLC, one of two vendors whose technology was tested in the test bed established by CTIA, said that “The Stage Z test bed provided the fourth opportunity for NextNav to demonstrate that its Metropolitan Beacon System (‘MBS’) technology provides vertical location accuracy of within 3 meters for at least 80 percent of wireless calls to E911 emergency services. Specifically, the Stage Z Report indicates that NextNav’s MBS technology was accurate within 1.8 meters across all three morphologies tested.” Continue reading

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Today marks the start of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, also known as NCSAM. Since 2004, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recognized October as NCSAM to promote cybersecurity awareness and safety tips, ultimately changing behaviors to protect people against cyber threats.

Our off- and online lives are increasingly blurred. There is no escaping the reality that our homes, economic prosperity and national security are impacted by the internet. Starting today, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) will explore weekly themes to help you become #CyberAware.

Week 1 (October 1–5) Make Your Home a Haven for Online Safety

Every day, parents and caregivers teach kids basic safety practices. Easy-to-learn life lessons for online safety and privacy begin with parents leading the way. S&T will provide basic cybersecurity tips to protect your home against potential cybersecurity threats stemming from online shopping and sharing too much personal information on social media.

Week 2 (October 8–12) Millions of Rewarding Jobs: Educating for a Career in Cybersecurity

A key risk to our economy and security continues to be the shortage of cybersecurity professionals to safeguard our ever-expanding cyber ecosystem. S&T’s Cybersecurity Competitions program funds efforts that engage high school and college students in cybersecurity competition challenges. One of our successfully transitioned efforts, the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC), challenges teams of college students to operate and manage a corporate network infrastructure. This effort’s objective is to educate and inspire the next generation of cybersecurity defenders. Continue reading