The Superstorm's third anniversary serves as the launch point for a shore Congressman's plan to ensure that the kind of telecommunication breakdowns we saw during Sandy have less of a chance of recurring - for civilians as well as for emergency responders - nationwide.

Representative Frank Pallone (D-6)'s tentatively-titled Securing Access to Networks in Disasters (SANDy) Act would create a greater field of cooperation among providers than currently exists, endow Wi-Fi systems with 911 capabilities and give telecommunications and mass media the resources to rebound quickly from damage.

The Democrat from Long Branch, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, recalled the dramatic cutoff of communications during and after the Superstorm, including cellular and home phones, television and Internet services.

The elements of his proposal stem in part from his September field forum, gauging progress with local officials and industry heads.

"As we continue to restore our homes, businesses and infrastructure three years after Sandy, we must also look ahead," Pallone said in a prepared statement.

"By enhancing the resiliency of the services that keep us connected when we need them most, my bill will use the lessons we learned from Sandy to make sure we are better prepared when the next storm hits."

His legislation, in part, would:

  • Ensure that cell phone users can access competing networks during emergencies if their networks fail, with a priority for 911 and emergency alerts
  • Increase coordination among wireless carriers, utilities, and public safety officials
  • Institute 911 capabilities for Wi-Fi hotspots during emergencies
  • Ensure rapid outage repairs by radio, TV and phone service providers, even across state boundaries
  • Launch an expansive study of the future of network resiliency

Pallone will discuss federal policy that affects the shore and will respond to calls and e-mails during "Ask The Congressman," November 23 on WOBM-AM NewsTalk 1160/1310. Send your questions in advance to wobmnews@wobm.com.