FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Launches Disaster Information Reporting System

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FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Launches Disaster Information Reporting System

Sep 13, 2007 10:13 AM

Washington - Sep 11, 2007 - The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) of the Federal Communications Commission has launched an automated Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). DIRS is a voluntary, web-based system that communications companies can use to report communications infrastructure status and situational awareness information during times of crisis. The goal of the system is to better streamline the reporting process and enable communications providers to share network status information with the Commission quickly and efficiently.

The FCC notes that this database operation addresses many of the recommendations submitted by the independent panel reviewing the impact of Hurricane Katrina on communications networks regarding the collection of disaster-related outage and other situational awareness information. DIRS includes data templates for different communications sectors, such as wireless, wireline, broadcast and cable. Participating communications providers will initially log onto the system to input their emergency contact information. Once this is done, participating communications providers that serve areas affected by disasters will be able to voluntarily submit information regarding the status of their communications equipment, restoration efforts, power and access to fuel.

Because the information that communications companies input to DIRS is sensitive, for national security and commercial reasons, DIRS filings shall be treated as presumptively confidential upon filing. DIRS filings voluntarily report weaknesses in and damage to the national communications infrastructure. The release of this sensitive information to the public could potentially facilitate terrorist targeting of critical infrastructure and key resources. Further, the DIRS filings contain internal confidential information that constitutes trade secrets and commercial or financial information. Public availability of these reports, which contain information the filers themselves do not routinely make public, could competitively harm the filers by revealing information about the types and deployment of their equipment and the traffic that flows across their networks. DIRS filings will, however, be shared with the NCS on a confidential basis.

The Commission requests that communications providers choosing to participate in DIRS provide contact information for any and all individuals in each company who would be providing information on the status of communications equipment in the event of a disaster. Contact information includes contact name, company name, phone number, cell phone number, Blackberry/pager number and e-mail address. This information will be secured by the Commission and protected from public release. Communications providers can access DIRS at www.fcc.gov/nors/disaster and obtain a user ID. Providers can also access DIRS under e-filing on the Commission's main webpage or on the PSHSB webpage.

When this disaster data collection system is activated in response to a crisis, all contacts in DIRS will be sent an e-mail letting them know the disaster area and the communications providers that are requested to provide data on the status of their communications equipment.