Jamie Barnett was quoted in Communications Daily on April 5, 2018, in an article about the Senate Commerce Hawaii field hearing on the January false alarm about a possible ballistic missile headed for Hawaii. The hearing is aimed at shaping legislation to address issues with the emergency alert system (EAS) highlighted in the incident and answering lingering questions about the event.
According to the article, Brian Schatz, Senate Communications Subcommittee ranking member, wants to focus on "the best, smartest way to set up" federal law on missile alerts since it's "clear that needs to be primarily a federal responsibility."
Former FCC officials and emergency communications experts view pre-empting states' authority to issue missile alerts as a reasonable step given the Hawaii incident.
It's "entirely appropriate," especially because the "fewer steps that you have between" the sensors that would trigger a missile alert and the authorities who issue the alert, "the better," said Mr. Barnett. Hawaii must "rely on other agencies" that can detect missile launches, including the military, and "those are the entities that should initiate the alerts," he stated.
Part of the solution involves "restoring the public's trust that the alerts they receive are accurate and are going to help them remain safe," Barnett said.
Schatz and other lawmakers should ask during the hearing whether state officials have "got all contingencies covered" for issuing alerts, including whether HI-EMA and others now "have the command and control" capabilities to effectively cancel and correct errant warnings, Barnett said. Lawmakers need to decide whether state officials "have people with the correct qualifications" and if the government is providing competitive compensation, Barnett said.