New York City has unveiled the first public safety system where mobile devices will receive emergency alerts at critical moments. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, and FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate along with top executives from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon gathered at the World Trade Center site to announce that the “Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN) is now on the fast track.
PLAN is a free service that enables customers with an enabled mobile device to receive geographically-targeted, test-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. When PLAN is operational, customers in an area affected by an emergency who have a PLAN-enabled mobile device will receive an alert of 90 characters or less.
Consumers will receive three types of alerts from PLAN to include alerts issued by the President, alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life, and Amber Alerts. Participating carriers may allow subscribers to block all but Presidential alerts.
PLAN will be available in New York City by the end of 2011 and Genachowski announced that by next April, PLAN will be deployed in cities across the country, represented by other carriers to include Leap, MetroPCS, and US Cellular.
Authorized government officials can send messages, where participating wireless providers will send the message via their cell towers to enabled mobile devices in a targeted geographic area. PLAN complements the existing Emergency Alert System, implemented by FCC and FEMA at the federal level through broadcasters and other media service providers.
Genachowski speaking at the launch of PLAN on May 10, 2011 said, “PLAN ensures that emergency alerts will not get stalled by user congestion which can happen with standard mobile voice and testing services. He continued to say, “To minimize networks from getting congested in the first place, more spectrum for mobile broadband needs to be unleashed and that is why the FCC is working with Congress to authorize voluntary incentive auctions.”