By Gautham Nagesh - 08/28/11 04:24 PM EDT
The Federal Communications Commission deployed teams along the East Coast on Saturday to help ensure first responders were able to communicate effectively during Hurricane Irene.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said his agency would monitor communications networks closely, and has asked both wireline and wireless carriers to activate a system used to monitor critical service outages during disasters.
“During emergencies like this, communications networks can become weakened or compromised.”
Irene left millions without power Sunday morning on the East Coast, and parts of Lower Manhattan were flooded. It was the second natural disaster to strike the Washington area in a week; the FCC has already said emergency phone systems worked as planned after Tuesday’s earthquake jammed phone lines.
Genachowski said the FCC worked closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deploy four Roll Call units to survey emergency communications systems, along with TV and radio stations.
The teams will send fast data on the status of communications networks in a given area to FEMA and the carrier repair teams in an attempt to restore service as quickly as possible.
The Commission’s 24-Hour Ops Center also coordinated requests for emergency use of special frequencies set aside for first responders. Public safety advocates have argued that the “D Block” of spectrum should be set aside for first responders to create their own national, interoperable public safety network.