Coney Island

City to study post-Sandy communications structure

July 28, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Mark Treyger (at podium) says it’s vital that the city’s communications infrastructure be working in an emergency. At right, next to Treyger, is Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Photo courtesy of Councilmember Treyger’s Office
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In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, there were widespread outages in phone, Internet and cable services that prevented victims from getting in touch with their family members or 911, according to Councilmember Mark Treyger, who said the City Council has passed a bill he introduced to prevent such a breakdown from happening again.

Treyger, chair of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, said his legislation mandates that the New York City Climate Change Adaptation Task Force evaluate the effects of climate change on the city’s telecommunications infrastructure. The task force was created by then-mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2008.

The council passed Treyger’s bill on July 23.

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The task force review panel will include officials from the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications as well as representatives from the telecommunications industry. The task force will study the matter and then issue a report with recommendations for improving the resiliency of public and private telecommunications infrastructures.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was getting in touch with loved ones and receiving vital information due to widespread phone, Internet and cable service outages across the city,” Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst) said in a statement. “As we learn important lessons from Sandy and prepare for the next major storm, we must look for ways to prevent crippling breakdowns in the city’s communications infrastructure in order to keep the public safe and informed.”

Treyger’s district covers Coney Island, a shorefront community that sustained significant damage when Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast on Oct. 29, 2012.

Following the storm, the city took a second look at its plans for food and fuel distribution. But the city has not surveyed the state of the communications system and its ability to withstand a storm, Treyger said.

The aim of his legislation, he said, is to gain a better account of the communications infrastructure and to find ways to ensure that these resources remain available following an emergency.

“This will go a long way towards making the city more resilient and better equipped to handle severe weather and other emergencies,” Treyger said.

The bill also requires the city to reach out to telecommunication service providers, including those holding franchise agreements with the city, to request their cooperation in obtaining information about resiliency plans.

The report will note any providers that decline to cooperate, Treyger warned. 

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