Nationwide alert system: Text messages

Nationwide alert system: Text messages

Summary: In 2006, Congress passed the Warning Alert and Response Network Act, required upgrades to the nation's emergency alert system. At least part of the plan the FCC has come up with involves the groundbreaking technology of ...


In 2006, Congress passed the Warning Alert and Response Network Act, required upgrades to the nation's emergency alert system. At least part of the plan the FCC has come up with involves the groundbreaking technology of ... text messaging.

"The ability to deliver accurate and timely warnings and alerts through cell phones 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,'' FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said following approval of the plan.
But participation is voluntary and subscribers can opt out of the program. How does that work? People are so afraid of spam they don't want to get a message that the subway has blown up? Anyway there's three classes of messages – hopefully they're not color-coded. Actually, they are marked by a special alert sound, so you know this isn't just the 92nd text message from your girlfriend. First, there's a national alert from the president for terrorist attacks and natural disasters, then there's imminent threats, which might include hurricanes or campus shootings. The third would be Amber alerts. No word on a contractor to build the service, which "could" be in place by 2010 but government IT being what it is, I wouldn't bet on it.

Topics: Mobility, Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Government, Government US, Hardware

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  • Opt out?? Should be opt in!!

    I *hate* when they do it backwards and thwart our rights! No, I'm not joking - keep your grubby government hands off my cell! Bad enough they probably filter all my calls for key words. Now they're gonna go with an "opt out" emergency messaging program. What if I don't wanna go register my number on an opt-out list somewhere? Maybe I'd rather not put my number on a list? Which can be obtained/viewed by someone, somewhere, sometime whom I don't want to view it? Just leave us alone. Really.

    On another level, do they think this would actually work? Do we not all know how poorly these systems work when flooded - like after something as simple as the local sports team winning a big game, and the network can't handle the calls! Do they even think they'd be able to push the messages through at a time like that? Just stick to radio and tv messages, please! At those times, cell bandwidth will already be at a premium!
    • I Think You're Wrong

      As much as I ***HATE*** having my favorite TV program interupted during the crisis breath stealing part... For an EMS system test...

      Tha ability to alert people to stay away from an area is something I for one think we *all* should be able to be made aware of.

      So, you regularly take a short cut through an obscure alley, or something similar... That isn't blocked off yet...


      A sniper attack is taking place on campus where your only daughter attends...

      Wouldn't you want her to get the word to stay away fro the area it's happening before stumbling into the cross fire...

      Opt-Out? Ridiculous...

      You can include me... Hey, it's even worth it if I had to pay the dollar...

      Of course the caveat is that there will always be thrill seekers and false heroes who would use such a message to run towards trouble...

      Mike Sr.
  • One Ring...

    Ah yes, and we really need One World Government.

    " One Ring to rule them all".......
  • Nationwide spam system: Text messages

    ...and with the amazing level of IT security that government entities have, how long until this is hacked and abused?

    What about those of us that have cellular phones that don't support text messages?

    What about the people that don't have cellular phones?

    Just how widespread will this "opt-out" list be? Or, will it be like trying to stop the \/1agR4 emails?
    • Since you ask

      [i]What about those of us that have cellular phones that don't support text messages?[/i]

      Consider yourself lucky.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Burn before reading

    Since the carriers get paid for every text message (spam or not) they're not big on letting you block SMS. As a result, I reject them all manually and insist on my carrier canceling the charges.

    How this makes them money I don't understand, but there you are.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • RE: Nationwide alert system: Text messages

    Cellular providers should be required to not charge for these messages, we're paying for them with our taxes anyway. The amber alert system sounds like a good idea, since most cell phones have picture messaging.
  • RE: Nationwide alert system: Text messages

    Bravo and Kool!

    It's about time that we have this system.
    In fact it's much too late. But even so as they say better late then never.

    What you might also use in a Civil Emergency or Natural Disaster is alert by e mail to computer addresses.

    Thank you

    dePaul Consiglio
  • RE: Nationwide alert system: Text messages

    Can't wait to see 275 million text messages going out at once. There may be a few issues with this solution. Good idea, but it won't work.
  • Duck Farts

    Anyone remember EAS? The Emergency Alert System?
    Considering that THAT ancient system is still in place, and
    still works, it seems to me that EAS would be a good
    foundation for this new venture.

    For those who don't know, my limited understanding of
    EAS is that each radio/tv station is tuned to a lead station.
    The lead station either receives the alert directly or
    through a Primary Entry Point station. The idea here is that
    the President can activate an EAS message at any time and
    the message will cascade through every radio station in
    the country within 10 minutes. Additionally, EAS covers
    regional/local weather warnings.

    If we can do this with ancient AM/FM radio and VHF/UHF
    TV technology, why should it take until 2010 to do this
    with cell tower technology? The concept of sending
    carriers over radio waves hasn't changed dramatically with
    the advent of the internet (or has it?).

    Additionally, if used as ethically as EAS, for what reasons
    should the SMS Alert System be Opt-In rather than Opt-

    And of course, cell providers should not charge for these
    messages, just as they don't charge for 911 calls.
  • Spam fears !?

    "...People are so afraid of spam they don???t want to get a message that the subway has blown up?"

    In a word, yes...
  • RE: Nationwide alert system: Text messages

    Here is New York, we already have this as part of the Emergency Alert System (EAS, the annoying test you see and hear on the TV and radio). I have not received a SPAM message since signing up at the end of last year. has agreements with the cell carriers.
  • RE: Nationwide alert system: Text messages

    Yes and we need to be protected from ourselves, so this will help. "Calling all Sheep"! What is more of an oxymoron: "police protection", or " homeland security"?
    Train the sheep with a Pavlovian response, then it doesn't matter what lies they tell. You know about the Morlocks and the Eloi right?
  • RE: Nationwide alert system: Text messages

    Are you saying that in the US you pay to receive texts? No wonder you get spam - in Europe it is the sender who pays.
  • Opt-in system already exists

    I use a service called StormNow ( I originally signed up so I could receive weather alerts as text messages to my phone. Sure, it gets a little annoying during a severe storm but I would rather know about the tornado on the way rather than find out after it went through my living room.

    They receive and re-send alert messages from the National Weather Service system. The government realized that this system works well so StormNow now carries all of the governmental alerts mentioned in the article. I simply select what I want to receive and it comes down as they recieve it.

    The cost is only $3.00 per month, well worth it since I live in tornado alley. Best part is that I often times know of an alert before the television or radio have a chance to get it out to listeners and viewers.