The Personal Localized Alerting Network, or PLAN, was just announced by Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Julius Genachowski, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate, and executives from T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. The goal is simple: In case there’s a threat to your safety, be it terrorist attacks or the release of a new Justin Beiber album, you’ll get a notification on your mobile phone alerting you. Operators that are a part of PLAN will be able to send out three types of messages: alerts issued by the President, alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life, and Amber Alerts. You need to have a PLAN enabled mobile phone to get these messages, which is absolutely absurd. It’s technically possible for an operator to see what devices are attached to a particular cell tower. Here’s how it should work: Click on a cell tower in the central command office, type out an alert, hit send, and now everyone will get an SMS with whatever it is you warned them of. That works on anything from the iPhone to a decade old Nokia.
As for which cities will be the first to get PLAN, New York and Washington are the most obvious, considering the attacks of 9/11, but the rest of the country is scheduled to get PLAN’d up sometime in 2012. Now what about the other operators? We’re thinking U.S. Cellular and MetroPCS, who have a large customer base, albeit one that’s geographically limited. It wasn’t mentioned when they’ll become PLAN enabled.
Look, if something as horrific as the twin towers coming down ever happens again then don’t fiddle with your mobile phone. Try saving any nearby women and children. As for Amber Alerts, we hate to say it, but you should get your kid a mobile phone at an early age so they can call you or the police if need be.