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Terror Alerts Arrive at a Cellphone Near You

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Washingtonians will soon see emergency alerts on their phones. A sneak preview of the coming notification system can be found in the Big Apple’s version.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced today NYC’s Personal Localized Alerting Network. The system provides local natural disasters, terrorist and other emergency alerts to cell phone users.

The Federal Communications Commission said the alerts will be geographically relevant text messages. In 90 characters or less, the alerts notify residents of severe weather, amber alerts, presidential addresses and terrorist warnings.

“We’re a mobile society,” Craig Fugate, Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, told CNN. “How many of us are sitting there listening to a radio or television when these (traditional) alerts come out?”

While some smartphones already come equipped with the necessary technology to receive the alerts, some phones may need a special chip installed.

The alert system will take priority over cell traffic in the event of network overload, ensuring the messages will be delivered. Cellphone carriers are considering options that allow users to block some of the alerts.

The alert system is expected to be running in D.C. and New York by the end of the year.

 

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