In response to Hurricane Sandy, FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) has activated the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) a voluntary, web-based system. Communications providers including wireless, wireline, broadcast, cable, and Voice over Internet Protocol providers use DIRS to report communications infrastructure status and situational awareness information during times of crisis.
In times of a major disaster such as Sandy, the FCC and the Department of Homeland Security’s National Communication System need to have accurate information on the status of communications services in the disaster area particularly during restoration efforts.
Through DIRS, the FCC can receive information on outages related to 9-1-1 centers, broadcast stations, and public safety communications systems. However, vital information on outages can also come through the FCC’s mandatory Network Outage Reporting System (NORS).
The FCC encourages all communications providers to enroll in DIRS to be better prepared to respond and recover in the event of a disaster as it is important for communities to receive critical updates and risk communications information from reliable and credible sources during emergencies. Go to http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/services/cip/dirs/dirs.html for more information.
To find new ways to deal with emergency preparedness and how to deal with crisis situations, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate and their Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG) have studied the importance of using social media and collaborative technology to help during all phases of an emergency or a crisis situation.
Implementing new technologies requires responding agencies to adopt new communication strategies. The VSMWG is in the process of making recommendations to the emergency preparedness and response community on the safe and sustainable use of social media technologies before, during, and after emergencies.