FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2016
Legislation will help Improve Communications during Disasters
WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, the Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act – or the SANDy Act, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 389-2. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the legislation last year to help ensure the resiliency of the nation’s communications networks during emergencies. During and after Sandy there was a major breakdown of communications networks, including cellular and home telephones, television, and internet services. This created a dangerous barrier to emergency response and recovery for residents and towns.
“I am proud that the SANDy Act can now help first responders, businesses and private citizens communicate during disasters,” said Pallone. “In New Jersey, we learned firsthand during Hurricane Sandy the importance of communications during an emergency. Broadcasters and cable providers give us the critical information we need to stay out of harm’s way. Making a call for help is difficult when the power is out, and when the cell towers are also down, it can be nearly impossible. We must do everything we can to be better prepared for the next time disaster strikes”
Before the bill passed the Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this month, Pallone and CTIA, together with wireless providers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon announced an agreement that wireless providers will share information and advance wireless network resiliency before, during and after disasters and emergencies.
APCO International, the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the enhancement of public safety communications, has voiced its support for the legislation stating that “it contains a number of provisions that would be helpful to 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) facing future large-scale disasters, and would generally lead to improvements in emergency communications in such situations.”
Since he became the top Democrat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, Pallone has redoubled his efforts to make sure that never happens again. As part of his effort, Pallone held a Superstorm Sandy Field Forum with local officials, industry leaders and senior FirstNet representatives to take a critical look at lessons learned and progress made with public safety telecommunications since the hurricane. Pallone used those lessons to craft the bill and improve the resiliency of our communications systems.
In addition the SANDy Act would:
· Make sure all communication providers—radio, TV, and phone—can fix outages faster, even across state lines.
· Begin a process to provide 911 services over Wi-Fi hotspots during emergencies.
Pallone spoke on the House floor urging passage of the bill yesterday. The video can be found here.