Emergency communications meeting postponed -- by emergency
From the Life's Little Ironies Department, state and county officials who oversee radio frequencies for public safety usage had to postpone a Tuesday meeting -- for public safety reasons focused on now-fizzled-Flossie.
The Federal Communications Commission allocates radio frequencies to state and local governments for emergency communication. In Hawaii, the 700 megahertz band is for the state, while the 800 MHz band is used by the counties. Additional chunks of the 700 MHz band will be released for public safety use once television stations stop using the bandwidth in February 2009.
The committees' statewide videoconference was reset for Sept. 11, but given the date, it may have to be rescheduled again, said Robert Hlivak, chairman of the 700 MHz Public Safety Regional Planning Committee and the Hawaii State Interoperability Executive Committee.
County counterpart Alvin Sunahara is with the 800 MHz Public Safety Regional Planning Committee. The Honolulu Police and Fire Departments use the 800 MHz band, "and we have some of our buses on that," Sunahara said.
The 700 MHz committee will allocate former TV spectrum primarily to first-responders, but Hlivak said, "encoded in the rules, is the ability for us to form partnerships."
The State Department of Land and Natural Resources could use the frequency to work with the U.S. Coast Guard, for instance.
The best disaster management plans connect all who need to coordinate efforts, from disaster preparation "to the living through it and the clean-up afterward," Hlivak said.
"It takes more than just a city or a state and county," he said, adding that it also takes the Foodbank, Salvation Army, Blood Bank and the like.
"Maybe we should look at using the 700 MHz spectrum as ... doorways to get those folks, too."
The FCC also wants to see wireless broadband use of the 700 MHz spectrum, according to a report released last week.
"It's important, and it's important that we get it right -- and I think we've got a pretty good crew of people working on it," Hlivak said.
This week, the FCC released a report on delivery of Emergency Alert System messages to non-English speakers.
The October earthquake and islandwide blackout highlighted that void in Hawaii, something KNDI-AM 1270 President Leona Jona has long known. Her team of volunteers is ready to translate messages into about 11 languages, and she has been working with Civil Defense officials on how to get the messages out.
"These people are very vulnerable," she said.
It is a likely topic for discussion at the next meeting of the Governor's Comprehensive Communications Review Committee late next month.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org