Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
SECURING ACCESS TO NETWORKS IN DISASTER ACT OR SANDY ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 20
(Extensions of Remarks - February 06, 2017)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E145] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] SECURING ACCESS TO NETWORKS IN DISASTER ACT OR SANDY ACT ______ HON. SHEILA JACKSON LEE of texas in the house of representatives Monday, February 6, 2017 Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 588, Securing Access to Networks in Disaster Act, which requires the Federal Communications Commission to submit to Congress and publish on the FCC website a study on the public safety benefits, technical feasibility, and cost of providing the public with access to 9-1-1 services during times of emergency when mobile service is unavailable. As a senior member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am well aware of the importance of telephone service during disasters. The Securing Access to Networks in Disasters (SANDy) Act seeks to ensure the resiliency of the nation's communications networks during emergencies. Acquiring cellphone service during a massive natural or manmade disaster is often difficult, if not impossible, and this is why this piece of legislation is so essential. During the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City, cellphone service was severely disrupted, forcing many callers to repeatedly dial to get through to 9- 1-1 emergency services. On that day, some of the most tragic, heart wrenching calls came from those trapped in the Twin Towers. It is not only during terrorist attacks that cellphone services are severely disrupted, but also natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, which claimed the lives of over 1,800 people. The SANDy Act would ensure that during an emergency, consumers' cell phones work on other carriers' networks if a consumer's own network goes down. H.R. 588 would give priority to calls to 9-1-1 services and emergency alerts. It also would increase coordination between wireless carriers, utilities, and public safety officials by creating a directory of the contact information for relevant disaster response officials. The bill would require the FCC to report to Congress regarding whether additional outage data should be provided in times of emergency. In addition, the bill requires the FCC to report to Congress on the viability of providing 9-1-1 services over Wi-Fi hotspots during emergencies. H.R. 588 would be of immense benefit to the 18th Congressional District and the greater Houston area. On April 17-18, 2016, Houston experienced a historic flood event that claimed the lives of eight people, damaged over 1,150 households, disrupted hundreds of businesses, closed community centers, schools, and places of worship due to flood waters. On April 25, President Obama granted the request for federal Individual Assistance for Harris County residences and business owners who were affected by severe weather and flooding. Unfortunately, that was not the end of the story of flooding in Houston for 2016--in early June another record setting rainfall led to catastrophic flooding throughout the Houston area. I am grateful to President Obama and the great work of those at the Department of Homeland Security who worked tirelessly to help people after both 2016 flood events. I spoke on the House Floor several times about the Floods and the suffering caused by the waters that came through our communities-- damaging homes, our schools, places of business, and our places of worship. The flooding problems in the Houston area are frequent, widespread, and severe, with projects to reduce flood risks in place that are valued at several billion dollars. In 2015, the Houston and surrounding area experienced widespread historic flooding. The importance of being able to contact emergency responders in the case of natural disasters is critical in order to save the lives of those directly affected by such events. The SANDy Act would provide telecommunication access to victims of natural and man-made disasters. The SANDy Act amends the Stafford Act to ensure that all communications providers: 1. Have the ability to access relevant disaster stricken areas during emergencies to restore service; and 2. Are included in the universal credentialing program for essential service providers The SANDy Act would recognize the critical role that all communications providers--broadcasters, cable, and telecommunications-- serve in emergencies, but most notably, the bill would ensure consumers have access to wireless service even if their cellphone service provider's wireless network goes down. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 588, the Securing Access to Networks in Disaster Act. ____________________