National Academies Press: OpenBook

Communications Worker Credentialing Requirements (2017)

Chapter: Chapter 1 Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Communications Worker Credentialing Requirements. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24794.
Page 1

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Final Report – Page 1 Chapter 1 Introduction Background Hurricane Katrina revealed major weaknesses in the basic elements of state emergency management plans (i.e., emergency preparation, response, etc.) as it tested disaster management practices at the federal, state, and local levels. To address these issues, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initiated a program to assist the public safety community and the industry to restore communications. Subsequently, the commission established the Katrina Panel, which had the mission to review the impact of Hurricane Katrina on communications infrastructure in the areas affected by the hurricane and assess the level of damage to the infrastructure and related services. Based on the assessment, the panel was asked to make recommendations to the commission regarding ways to improve disaster preparedness, network reliability, and communications among first responders such as police, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel. The Recommendations of the Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks presented by the FCC EB Docket (06-119) proposed the establishment of communications worker credentials to identify authorized personnel responsible for post-disaster repair and maintenance of critical systems. These recommendations included the following: 1. Establishment of credentialing requirements and procedures for communications workers and repair personnel who participate in recovery activities during and after a natural disaster; 2. Development of post-disaster coordination areas for communications infrastructure provider personnel and equipment and their inclusion in state Emergency Preparedness Plans; 3. Identification and prioritization of key communications infrastructure; and 4. Facilitation of utility maintenance and commercial power restoration. To develop new guidelines for communications worker credentialing procedures, research is needed to synthesize the progress made in meeting these broad goals through a review of the available state emergency plans, publications, and operating procedures. Objective The objective of this project was to address the first recommendation of the Katrina Panel through the assessment of established and emerging national and state credentialing programs. More specifically, this study explored how communications workers can be credentialed to be given physical access to repair, service, or replace communications infrastructure for public safety and emergency management during and after emergency incidents. Existing alternative communication credentials and effective practices associated with each were also researched. It is anticipated that results from this study may be used as the basis for future research to further develop guidelines in this area.

Next: Chapter 2 Credential Elemental Analysis (Phase I) »
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TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Web-Only Document 232: Communications Worker Credentialing Requirements focuses on credentialing requirements needed for communications workers to physically access disaster-impacted areas to restore damaged wireline telecommunication networks.

Under the advice of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) panel that reviewed the impact of Hurricane Katrina on communications networks, the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act designated cable companies and other telecommunications services as “essential service providers” for emergency management. Credentialing is a system by which identification cards or other tokens are used to authenticate a person and verify their expertise and qualifications for the purpose of access.


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