Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cell Phones Join Emergency Broadcast Network

NewsFactor Network writes that "The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, is demonstrating today a new system for warnings to be sent as text messages to cell phones, satellite radio devices, cable TV stations, Web sites, and PDAs, in addition to traditional media outlets."

According to the article, "the warnings, for terrorist attacks or natural disasters such as hurricanes, are intended to be of use to both emergency responders and the general public. In many cases, the text messages sent to mobile phones will alert the reader to check TV stations for more information. The new system will use capacity within the digital TV transmitters of 176 public broadcasting stations in the U.S. The stations will transmit to receiving networks for wireless devices, satellite radio services, and so on."

Avi Greengart at Current Analysis noted that "automated text messages for emergencies are already used in such countries as the UK and Israel." He said, "With the publicity around American Idol and other short message service (SMS) advertising promotions, awareness among the general population is now quite good. Since mobile phones are devices people carry with them all the time, reaching out to them in an emergency makes a tremendous amount of sense."

Dave Linsalata at IDC believed that "the cell phones, in particular, could become an all-in-one emergency receiver." He said, "I think we're going to hit a point soon, with 3G and so on, where you won't need to go to another medium. You can watch the video or audio information, as well as receive the text messages, on your cell phone."