U.S. senators Brian Schatz- democrat from Hawaii and John Thune- a republican from South Dakota reintroduced the READI Bill in the Senate, which would pave for faster and more reliable emergency alert services. The bill aims at employing popular audio and video streaming platforms like Netflix and Spotify to carry this important task out.
Abbreviated as the READI Act, the act stands for ‘Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement’ Act. As the name suggests, the enactment would ensure that the receivers get real and reliable alerts in real-time.
The bill was introduced last year, initially. The bill had actually followed the infamous and much-buzzed missile alert in Hawaii. The alert had later been proved to be entirely false and had been a primary cause of misleading people who received the transmitted message. Needless to say, the message had sent shivers down its receivers.
It should be noted that the false missile alert had been a blessing in disguise, as the lawmakers wish to call it. That time there were a lot of people who neither received the message through text alert nor did they hear any emergency warning through T.V. or Radio. And again there were those people who got that message on their phones.
Brian Schatz, a senator from Hawaii noted:
“When a missile alert went out across Hawai’i last year, some people never got the message on their phones, while others missed it on their T.V.s and radios. Even though it was a false alarm, the missile alert exposed real flaws in the way people receive emergency alerts. Our bill fixes a number of important problems with the system responsible for delivering emergency alerts. In a real emergency, these alerts can save lives so we have to do everything we can to get it right.”
Howsoever careless the incident might seem, it exposed many of the shortcomings of the existing system of generation, transmission, and receiving of alerts in times of crisis. Thus the bill serves a rightful purpose, however through a non-conventional approach.
Not just the popular audio and video streaming services, the act would ensure that relevant and genuine emergency alerts, be it a missile attack or a natural calamity, shall reach people through T.V. and Radio stations too.
The act would also obstruct the users from opting out of the alert services. While you may choose to opt-out of other notifications, the emergency alerts would be seen as ones at a priority level, placing them at a bracket higher than other notifications or alerts.
The current wireless emergency alert system was not broad in nature and had less coverage. On the contrary, the new system resulting after this act would be an improvement over the existent system, acting as a lifeguard in situations of crisis.
Currently, emergency alerts appear for once only- on T.V. and radio stations. But the act coming to effect would necessarily mean that important releases and alerts are also repeated. Repetition of an alert would make sure that the alerts do not go unnoticed. At least casualties due to this factor would be reduced to a great extent.
The vice president of federal government affairs for the Internet Association, Michael Bloom spoke on the subject of the bill, “Modernizing the emergency alert process is crucial to Americans’ safety and the READI Act is a well-constructed, collaborative approach to solving this critical problem.”