The FCC’s DIRS wants to hear from you.

As this is being written, we have two hurricanes (Danielle and Earl) already formed, and at least one other storm system heading in that direction (next name up: Fiona) – and it’s still August. All of which means that it’s a good time to remind broadcasters of the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) – and to encourage them to update their contact information with DIRS regularly (if they’ve previously enrolled in the program), or to get with the program and sign up now, if they haven’t already. At last count nearly 800 broadcasters nationwide had enrolled in DIRS, which appears to leave a significant number still standing on the sidelines.

DIRS enables the FCC to keep tabs on which stations are up and running during, and immediately after, a disaster or large-scale emergency. It also enables the Commission to move quickly to help broadcasters get back on-air if they’re knocked off by the emergency conditions. In emergencies and disasters, obviously, it’s in everybody’s interest to have broadcasters up and operating so that they can provide emergency-related information and updates to the public.

If you’re a communications provider (a broad universe that includes broadcasters), you can sign up for the program online here.  You give the Commission some basic contact information, and you get a user ID and user password. When emergencies occur and the FCC activates the system (participants will be advised by email of any activation), you can then use the system to alert the FCC to the status of your operation – and, if you happen to need any help from the FCC, you can let them know that as well. (FEMA and FCC emergency response personnel use DIRS reports to coordinate needed assistance – including such necessities as fuel and generators – in the aftermath of natural disasters.)

Participation in DIRS is purely voluntary. Even if you sign up, you don’t necessarily have to submit reports. But experience (think Katrina, for one unfortunate example) indicates that when disaster strikes, it is at least helpful, if not absolutely crucial, to have a common point for the collection and dissemination of information about what’s going on in the stricken area and its environs. And don’t forget, the DIRS is available for all kinds of emergencies, not just hurricanes.