U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Burr (R-NC) reintroduced legislation designed to improve communications networks during natural disasters Wednesday.
The Emergency Reporting Act would ensure the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provided resources to state and local governments preparing for and responding to natural disasters.
Companion legislation was introduced into the House of Representatives by Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).
The legislation would improve communication between mobile carriers experiencing network outages and 911 centers. Currently, 911 centers are often unaware of service outages, which places public safety at risk.
“We can’t control natural disasters, but we can prepare for our responses to them,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “During an emergency, having reliable communications networks saves lives. This bipartisan legislation will ensure we have the resources in place to establish strong communications pathways and provide regular updates to first responders so we can help those in need during crises.”
Congress members said it was crucial that in natural disasters – like the California wildfires or hurricanes on the east coast – Americans should be able to pick up the phone, call 911, and know that help would be on the way immediately.
“When hurricanes strike, North Carolinians depend on resilient communication networks to reach out for help or contact loved ones during an emergency,” said Sen. Burr. “The Emergency Reporting Act strengthens these networks by improving the coordination between state and local governments and the FCC to ensure they have the tools to prepare for, respond to, and learn from major natural disasters.”