|New Yorkers soon to get emergency cell phone alerts
in what Bloomberg calls 'quantum leap forward'
Daily News | May 9th 2011
Emergency officials will soon be able to blast critical alerts to anyone with a cell phone in a certain section of the city.
If Times Square needs to be evacuated because of a bomb threat or if a hurricane is bearing down on Queens, warnings will be bounced from cell towers.
"Making sure that [people] get useful and life-saving information, quickly and easily, right on their mobile phones, will help more people get out of harm's way when a threat exists," said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate.
The system - called PLAN or Personal Localized Alerting Network - uses cell phone towers to send messages to everyone currently in a certain area, regardless of whether they're visiting from out of town or have a phone registered elsewhere. People won't have to register in advance to receive the alerts.
The messages, including urgent blasts from the President, information on imminent threats and Amber Alerts about missing children, will supercede all other phone traffic so they won't be stalled or delayed.
FEMA's Fugate and Federal Communications Commissioner Chair Julius Genachowski plan to announce the new system at the World Trade Center site Tuesday in a press conference with Mayor Bloomberg and top phone company execs.
They system is expected to be up and running in New York and Washington by the end of the year - months before the rest of the country.
Mayor Bloomberg called the alerts a "quantum leap forward in using technology to help keep people safe."