The progressive state of California and Sprint, one of America’s smaller operators, are joining forces to launch a mobile emergency alert system. You’re used to seeing televisions and radios bleep and bloop whenever a severe storm is about to approach, but this is 2010 and people are not exactly glued to their television screens or grandpa’s old tube radio sitting in the living room anymore. So how do you alert people of impending doom in today’s age of ubiquitous mobile phone usage? Text messages.
The system is unique in that a specific location can be highlighted on a map and then anyone who is standing in that particular region will receive a text. Could be an entire city, could be an airport, could be a city block. The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) is going to be tested in San Diego County this fall and if everything works as planned then California could potentially alert anyone who happens to be on the same road as Lindsey Lohan and her sports car, which also conveniently has a bottle of booze in the glove box.
“California is proud to lead the country in having the ability to instantly alert residents via their mobile phones to an emergency or disaster specific to their current location,” said California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen, later adding: “This technology, along with Sprint’s seasoned record of providing reliable wireless and network support during the state’s wildfires, floods and earthquakes will prove a tremendous resource to the country’s public safety and emergency management community.”
The technology that powers all of this is Alcatel-Lucent’s Broadcast Message Center. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get abused. It’s all too tempting for an intern to send a mass text to everyone who lives within 5 city blocks of his ex-girlfriend that she secretly likes it up the butt or some other false information intended to cause hilarity.