COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL
June 29th Derecho Storm 911 and Communications Outages Overview/Update
(July 19, 2012)
Last week, at the oversight hearing before the House of Representatives Energy
and Commerce Committee, I called for the Commission to begin an investigation into the
communications difficulties that followed in the wake of last month’s storm in the
Washington region and beyond. As we all know, weather-related power outages brought
life here to a halt. Wireless towers and 911 service failed too many of us. I believed
then, and believe now, that the agency has a duty to search out the facts—wherever they
may lead. Then we can apply the lessons we learn and make our networks more resilient,
more secure, and more safe.
This week, I visited the 911 center in Fairfax County, one of the public safety
answering points that was not able to answer emergency calls. The head of Fairfax
County’s Department of Public Safety Communications described an eerie quiet in the
aftermath of the storm, as the calls into 911 quickly and implausibly ceased. This put
lives at danger. It put our safety at risk. It deserves our attention.
So I am pleased that the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has
provided this update today. I am also pleased that the agency has begun an inquiry into
what happened and why. I am confident that the Bureau will get to the bottom of this
situation, so we can learn from it and be better prepared when disaster strikes.