US Government Updates Emergency Alert System
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the US Department of Homeland Security are developing a system to alert Americans to emergencies via their mobile devices and cable TV as well as radios. A 21st century version of the Emergency Broadcast System developed during the Cold War, the system will allow the federal government to keep citizens informed in "situations of war, terrorist attack, natural disaster or other hazards to public safety and well-being."
The system, under development since October 2004, will be piloted in the Gulf states before being deployed nationwide. Among the kinks remaining to be worked out include figuring out how to send out millions of text messages without jamming the cell phone carriers, and whether to allow people to "opt out" of receiving messages.