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New York City to Launch New Emergency Alert System

by Chiara Wegener
A A
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg holds press conference
Chiara Wegener/WFUV

A new emergency service called PLAN (Personal Localized Alerting Network) will send out text message alerts in case of a public emergency.

The Federal Communications Commission is expanding its emergency alert system to include cell phones.

Mayor Bloomberg met with local elected officials, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, and executives from cell phone service providers on Tuesday to announce the new service, dubbed PLAN (Personal Localized Alerting Network).

PLAN will send out alerts to cell phone users in the case of an emergency like a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The service is expected to begin in New York City by the end of this year, but is planned to expand nationwide by 2012 through service providers AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

By the beginning of next year, all new cell phones will be required to be equipped with chips that receive the alerts. Cell phone users will receive three types of alerts from PLAN: alerts issued by the President, alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life, and Amber Alerts.

FEMA Administrator Fugate said that this service is necessary as part of the nation's emergency management team.

"This new technology could become a lifeline for millions of Americans and is another tool that will strengthen our nation's resilience against all hazards," he said.

Mayor Bloomberg said the city's existing alert system, Notify NYC, alerts only those who have opted into the plan. PLAN will alert all cell phone in the geographic area of an emergency, regardless of where they are from or where they bought their phone.

"Every week day, our population swells to more than 12 million as tourists and commuters come to town," said Bloomberg. "With the PLAN program, we'll be able to broadcast messages to any of them who are within our target area."

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