Friday, April 29, 2011

Disaster alerts could be sent to mobile, gaming devices

Scott Martin in USA Today: Natural disasters, including the recent rash of tornadoes that cut a destructive path across the U.S., have spurred savvy technologists to develop ways to alert people via popular mobile devices and gaming consoles. That's in part because the U.S. government hasn't yet carried out the Warning Alert and Response Network Act that would make alerting the nation's mobile phone customers a reality.

"Right now, the government is finalizing its gateway and working with the wireless carriers," said Brian Josef, assistant vice president for regulatory affairs at wireless association CTIA. "There's a lot of coordination and a lot of moving parts to make sure it works without hiccups."

Those details are being hammered out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. The agencies are working with carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel, Verizon, U.S. Cellular, Metro PCS and Cricket, among others. April 2012 is the deadline to have the federal system up and running.

But there are others rushing in to fill the void. Some states have even taken matters into their own hands. The state of New York has its own working system. Known as NY-Alert, its website allows area people to sign up for alerts by text message, RSS feeds, e-mail and more than a dozen other ways. NY-Alert has 6.6 million subscribers….

A woman talks on her cell phone in a market in Kep, Cambodia. May 2009. Shot by Adam Jones Adam63, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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