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.