The New York Times is reporting that a plan has been approved by Federal regulators to use text messaging to distribute emergency alerts.
The system is scheduled to go online by 2010, and will include three different types of alerts: national alerts (such as terrorist attacks), imminent threats (such as natural disasters), and Amber alerts. From the Times:
"The plan stems from the Warning Alert and Response Network Act, a 2006 federal law that requires upgrades to the emergency alert system. The act requires the Federal Communications Commission to develop ways to alert the public about emergencies. 'The ability to deliver accurate and timely warnings and alerts through cellphones and other mobile services is an important next step in our efforts to help ensure that the American public has the information they need to take action to protect themselves and their families prior to, and during, disasters and other emergencies,' the commission chairman, Kevin J. Martin, said after the plan was approved."