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FCC Seeks Comments on Collection of ‘Emergency Alert System’ Data

The FCC wants approval for a three-year clearance period on EAS rules and regulations

The U.S. government is seeking comments on whether a proposed collection of data focused on the “common alerting protocol” (CAP) of the “Emergency Alert System” (EAS) is necessary to ensure the “proper performance” of the system, and determine if the information collection is “practical.”

On June 20, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission posted a Federal Register notice—Information Collection(s) Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission for Extension Under Delegated Authority, Comments Requested—requesting stakeholder comments on whether “the information shall have practical utility,” and “ways to enhance the quality utility, and clarity of the information collected.”

The FCC also wants recommendations on ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small businesses, those with fewer than 25 employees.

The FCC says it “will submit this expiring information collection to the [White House] Office of Management and Budget” (OMB) to obtain approval for the full three year clearance period on the rules and regulations addressing the EAS. The alert system provides the president with the capability to provide immediate communications and information to the general public at the national, state and local area level during periods of national emergency, the notice says.

The EAS also provides state and local governments and the National Weather Service with the capability to provide immediate communications and information to the general public concerning emergency situations posting a threat to life and property, the notice says. For this new collection, the commission is requesting emergency OMB review and processing of federal reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

In addition, the FCC amended its rules governing the EAS to more fully codify the existing obligation to process CAP-formatted alert messages, the FCC says.

Current procedures for meeting general certification requirements establish that integrated CAP-capable EAS devices and intermediate devices that are used in tandem with legacy EAS equipment are subject to the FCC’s existing device certification requirements set forth in the commission’s equipment authorization rules. Those requirements also establish specific procedures by which EAS device manufacturers can update existing device certifications and obtain new certifications, which generally involve the submission of test data and other materials to the FCC.

The information collected by the FCC is used to confirm that EAS devices comply with the technical and performance requirements set forth in the EAS rules and other applicable FCC rules. Those rules are designed to minimize electrical radiofrequency interference and to ensure that the EAS, including individual devices within that system, operate as intended, the commission says.

The deadline for comments is Aug. 20, 2012.