By year’s end, it is expected that Washington, DC, and New York City will both have an emergency alert system that will transmit messages to mobile phones in the event of disasters. In a poignant coincidence, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the announcement at a news conference in a building, which overlooked the site of what was once the World Trade Center.
Mobile phone users will be empowered by the new technology, which will allow federal government and local authorities to automatically report any threats to public safety clearly and accurately. The alerts may also contain messages from President Obama concerning missing children or terrorist activities. The information functions via GPS technology and the alerts will always relate to the user’s specific location.
First approved by Congress back in 2006 under the Warning Alert and Response Network Act, the alert system will be available free of charge and will be implemented through a special chip that will become standard equipment on newer mobile phones.
Options may vary from phone carrier to carrier, as some mobile phone users may prefer not to receive notices about missing children. Presidential alerts, however, will be required.
In times of disaster, communication is of the utmost importance. For search and rescue operators, the emergency alert can save precious time and make rescue attempts a bit easier. For those in search of loved ones, with the alert they are just fingertips away. The emergency alert system represents one more way the cool hand of technology is reaching out to touch us all.