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FCC actively monitoring & assisting radio and communications infrastructure providers during Hurricane Irene

NWS radar image of Hurricane Irene at 5:08 PM EDT, Aug. 27

The Federal Communications Commission activated the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) yesterday. Currently the system is focused on coastal North Caroline where Hurricane Irene has recently made landfall.

DIRS provides communication providers a way to inform the Commission of their operational status during emergencies. Broadcasters, wireless providers, cable companies and other communications providers may voluntarily let the FCC know if they’re operational, and under what conditions, such as if they are on backup power. The primary reporting channel is the FCC’s DIRS website, however the Commission has also provided phone contacts in the event that a provider lacks internet access during a crisis.

The Commission promises help for broadcasters who voluntarily participated in the DIRS program, including assistance to restore operations. The purpose of this assistance is to maintain this vital conduit of emergency information to the general public. The Commission also consolidates status reporting to other government agencies, so that stations aren’t trying to deal with multiple requests for the status of their broadcasts. The logistical assistance includes helping to “coordinate actions with and between other private sector communications companies, and local businesses (e.g., home supply companies, fuel fleet carriers, etc.) to determine who can provide the needed assistance.”

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has a Hurricane Information page, which contains the communication tips that Matthew posted about earlier today.

A tip of the hat goes to Jim Ellinger of Austin Airwaves who posted some info about DIRS to the Radio Survivor facebook page.

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