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Government Communications News

Emergency Alerts Via Text Messaging 65

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."
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Emergency Alerts Via Text Messaging

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  • by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Friday April 11, 2008 @04:13AM (#23033760) Homepage Journal
    This means that the messaging infrastructures are to be really highly available under all circumstances.
    Which seems no to be the case at least for GSM/3G cellular networks where these infrastructures are very complex.
  • Yeah, sure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FoolsGold (1139759) on Friday April 11, 2008 @04:18AM (#23033792)
    It's only natural mobile networks will become flooded during an emergency that this will prove useless.
  • Re:Yeah, sure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mapkinase (958129) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:56AM (#23034416) Homepage Journal
    They become jammed AFTER awareness reached the masses.

    NYC was completely jammed on 2001/9/11 for several hours because everybody was calling.

    I agree with you with small change:

    I guess the system would work good when only few people know what is going on and the lines are not jammed yet. In some situations it is useless, like when the catastrophe have already happened with thousands of texting and more importantly, videoing witnesses. In other situations, like "There is an intercontinental ballistic missile heading San Francisco half hour away from the target", that could be (relatively) helpful.
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Friday April 11, 2008 @07:37AM (#23034598)
    will the cell phone companies make it 100% free and make it work even when you have texting turned off as I was getting a lot of spam that I was paying $0.10+ a text on my phone.
  • Re:Opt-out? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Friday April 11, 2008 @07:55AM (#23034674)
    There would be three types of messages, according to the rules.

    The first would be a national alert from the president, probably involving a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

    The second would involve imminent threats that could include natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes or university shootings.

    The third would be reserved for child abductions, so-called Amber alerts.


    Does anyone else find it absurd to equate the abduction of one child with a natural disaster? I realise that to THINK OF THE CHILDREN is mandatory in any political initiative, as of course is THINK OF THE TERRORISTS (though in this case the latter is actually justified), but sending out alerts to the entire population (even if geographically limited) every time a child goes missing seems to be both pointless and annoying. There are a myriad of crimes committed every day that are equally as serious. People will opt out after a short time after being deluged with the equivalent of a Fox news-ticker of crime-as-it-happens crawling across their phone all day long.
  • by ICLKennyG (899257) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:46AM (#23034972)

    I get txt alerts from ESPN/CBS and others on sports scores. The great thing is when I get an alert on Thursday about a football game played on Sunday.

    I can envision a world where people are getting Katrina warnings 3 days after the storm hits.

    The system is way too ad-hoc and fragile to support mission critical alerts of upcoming disasters.

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