Tuesday, October 21, 2014

FEMA Director: FM Radio Chips Are Smart

Craig Fugate
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is touting the benefits of having cellphone carriers enable FM radio on smartphones.

Hediscussed the value of radio-enabled Smartphones during times of emergency in an interview released Monday. In the video, Fugate highlights the importance of having access to local broadcasters' emergency information when other communications networks fail or become congested.

Fugate said broadcast radio is, at times, the only way to receive emergency information during a disaster, when other services are jammed with overuse. He pointed to the 2011 earthquake near Washington, D.C., and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

"A lot of our tendency to use streaming devices to be dependent upon broadband capabilities are vulnerable in a disaster," he said, adding that during natural disasters, a phone without service is no more useful than a "brick."

"He added: "So when you get things where you can start combining functions, like putting FM chips into cellphones, and you start getting radio … it moves us beyond just streaming."

The broadcast association has long pushed for the change, and Fugate has previously touted the benefits of broadcast radio during natural disasters.

"His comments send a strong message to wireless providers regarding the indispensable value of radio as a lifeline when disaster strikes," NAB chief executive Gordon Smith said in a statement.

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