Jim Carafano at the Heritage Foundation published a new report entitled “Talking Through Disasters: The Federal Role in Emergency Communications” yesterday. He makes the case that the federal government needs to more narrowly target and prioritize its efforts on emergency communications, instead of being expected to pick up the tab for tens of billions of dollars of future investment:
From September 11, 2001, to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Congress and the Bush Administration have wrestled with the challenge of improving emergency management communications. An unprecedented federal spending spree has yielded scant progress, however, and Washingtonâ€™s programs should be scrapped. It is unlikely that they will ever be able to achieve, either efficiently or effectively, the goal of creÂating the kind of emergency communication systems the nation needs to respond to national disasters.
The right approach would include adhering to a set of policies that promote effective publicâ€“private sharing of the emergency management electromagnetic specÂtrum, create a national capability to deploy a wide-area emergency management communications network for catastrophic disasters, and establish coherent national leadership for emergency response communications.
His four top-level policy recommendations:
- Put First Things First
- Open Emergency Management Frequencies as Dual-Use Spectrum
- Donâ€™t Send Money; Set Standards
- Buy Services, Not Infrastructure or Technology
Overall, a well-argued report, which realistically assesses the benefits and costs of investing in interoperable, emergency communications.