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Emergency Broadcast System Coming To Cell Phones

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the set-your-emergency-to-vibrate dept.

Cellphones 256

gambit3 writes "The Emergency Broadcast System that interrupts TV programming in times of crisis is jumping to a new format where it might be able to reach you better — on your cell phone. The communications company Alcatel-Lucent announced Tuesday that it's creating a Broadcast Message Center that will allow government agencies to send cell phone users specific information in the event of a local, state or national emergency. It will be similar to the TV alerts in that the text messages will be geographically targeted for areas where a tornado alert or major road closure, for example, is in effect."

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oh good, but then slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34258680)

OK, it starts off as a good idea, but then we start getting "Amber Alerts" for cities hundreds of miles away and tornado warnings for towns hundreds of miles away and it just becomes another level of spam

Re:oh good, but then slippery slope (1, Redundant)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259068)

You mean you don't welcome our new disaster-warning-texting overlords?

Re:oh good, but then slippery slope (5, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259124)

Did you not see the part in the summar about "It will be similar to the TV alerts in that the text messages will be geographically targeted"? I suspect that they'll broadcast messages to those phones that are within reception of a given cell tower, not for cell numbers mapped to addresses in a given area.

Re:oh good, but then slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259276)

The problem with terrestrial radio / TV broadcasts is that if any portion of the radio's coverage area includes a weather warning, they have to broadcast it to the whole area. So you get situations where WNOR, which can be picked up as far south as Elizabeth City, NC, has to broadcast a warning that has no impact in Norfolk.

This system sounds like it could go by individual cell towers, though, which have a much smaller coverage area.

(The Amber Alerts will probably still get you, though, because they tend to get broadcast over pretty huge areas to begin with.)

Re:oh good, but then slippery slope (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259378)

If the idea of helping a kidnapped child find their way home is so inconvenient for you, please get off my earth.

will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (4, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258700)

will you have to pay for incoming texts? and maybe even roaming text fees as well?

Will it still work if you have texts blocked? (as to not have to pay for incoming texts?)

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (3, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258842)

I Really doubt it they'll charge you for it. If they can have Toll Free phone numbers I think they can manage toll free Text messages.

And if you block texts, I suppose that'd be about the same as having your TV turned off - or not hooked up to any input.

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (2, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259332)

Oh, don't worry, you will pay for it.

But instead of a nickel or a quarter per alert, it'll just come as another mandatory "911" fee on your monthly statement, for your convenience. You'll end up wishing they only charged you a quarter per alert ;-P But the government will negotiate the rate for you, so you will be guaranteed that it will be fair.

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259374)

..ly generous to the carriers. :P

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259562)

and of course the carriers will bitch about how much it'll cost to implement the service and roll it out to each tower and how their techs will have to walk up hill, both ways, in 10' of snow, barefoot, to get to the towers... so they'll raise their rates to pay for it....
the only thing the emergency warning system does is fuck up my DVR and annoy the hell out of me when i'm trying to watch tv....
get off my lawn and leave my damned media devices alone..... assholes....

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259606)

This is not necessarily new - they have had opt-in free text messaging services in different areas of the country for at least two years now. Will the carriers start charging if it becomes nationwide? Yes. Have they up to now? Not where I used to live.

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (2, Interesting)

will3477 (705414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258852)

I think you bring up some really good points about fees that cell phone companies charge, but I think this is an easy case where you say the cell phone companies are not allowed to charge for these messages and that they by default go to all numbers although I could see allowing an opt-out list (i.e. we have cell phones on most of our vehicles to let them report location, speed etc to us, and the cell phones are in enclosure where the driver can't get to them, so the message notification could get annoying for the drivers). Overall I really think this is a good idea. Luckily we have pretty good tornado sirens where I live, but I've been at the pool on a beautiful day with the kids before only to have the tornado sirens go off and within 20 minutes there be a really bad storm. I've also really complained about the lack of traffic information; one day they closed S.R. 161 but they just had a police officer there directing you to not go on the on ramp without any explanation. They closed it as it was very icy and cars (including the salt trucks) were merely sliding off of it. My daughter's day care was on the corner of 161, so I wanted to know why the road was closed, for how far, expected open time etc. Another time this would have been useful was when a firetruck overturned in front of my apartment complex. It was just south of the entrance, so Columbus police were directing residents to approach if from the north while Blendon officers (who were there as a courtesy as its outside their jurisdiction although they share the department whose firetruck overturned) were threatening to arrest people who tried to approach from the North or who got out to tell them CPD was directing them there and did they have an ETA when they could go home (several of my neighbors were arrested and the situation didn't get better until wifes complained to CPD who used a parking lot to go around the accident and relieved Blendon).

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259594)

uh yah.... so when the officer directs you that the road is blocked, if he can't be bothered with an explanation, call the station and ask... surely they know WHY they sent him out there....

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34258968)

will you have to pay for incoming texts? and maybe even roaming text fees as well?

Of course! Free market, baby! Or are you some sort of socialist that wants the government to plan what stuff costs?

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (0, Troll)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259666)

I am in favor of "unfunded mandates" and "public service" announcement requirements - if the government can require television broadcasters to carry public service announcements without paying them and requiring no payment be billed to viewers (and they can - the FCC governs the bandwidth allotment of individual towers and channels), then I see no reason to think they will be unable to require ATT / Sprint / etc. to carry free messages (ATT already does for Amber alerts on a voluntary basis).

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (5, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259088)

More than likely they aren't going to bother trying to send it to a number.. but rather have the towers in the effected area send out the broadcast message to all associated radios

the ability to do this exists already - your phone would get it and accept it because text blocking is done at the exchange level not the phone (it could be done at the phone but 99.999% of the time it isn't)

i'm sure wouldn't be billed because if they send it at a tower level and not exchange level their normal billing message counting system would not be in place and would have to be changed to support it - which i doubt would happen as this would be just yet another government mandated thing.

while i like the idea - and i completely understand and agree with the need for something like this..

i'm more concerned with it's use as security theater abuse (have it only send to radios in air ports? can we have some fun with that?)

Also.. all the dumb asses on the road yapping on their phone - texting their friends - doing everything but driving..

now just imagine.. your going down the road and EVERYONE - EVERYONE gets a message at the same time - and they all check their phones at the same time.. this could cause some serious accidents.

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259290)

now just imagine.. your going down the road and EVERYONE - EVERYONE gets a message at the same time - and they all check their phones at the same time.. this could cause some serious accidents.

Are you kidding?

If it was just a message everybody getting it at the same time could be dangerous in your scenario. Now imagine something like, "Farmville will start charging tomorrow". Bloody wreckage everywhere.

Re:will you have to pay for incoming and roaming (1)

Sparhawk2k (680674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259166)

Verizon at least already has a system in place for free texts. They send them occasionally for account/billing information and they don't get counted against your usage. I'm assuming it's the same thing.

But having them blocked is an interesting one... Obviously if they're free that solves the problem if that's why the person blocked them. But if they have other reasons and you send them anyways that might be an invasion of privacy. Though really, you don't sign up for them to do it on TV and they do. It's for emergency purposes only...

WTF! Are you serious??? (1)

pushf popf (741049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259326)

If I get a text about a giant tornado headed my way, do you honestly think I care if they charge me 20 cents for the "head's up"?

What if that tornado tiggers 5 + texts do you want (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259454)

What if that tornado tiggers 5 + texts do you want pay $1 or more per storm? and lots more if are roaming text roaming can be $0.50+ per text.

Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259762)

What if you're charged a mandatory $5 per month fee to get alerts *if* there is a storm.

Re:WTF! Are you serious??? (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259474)

No, especially since it's small compared to the cost of gasoline used to storm chase after the thing :)

Re:WTF! Are you serious??? (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259640)

wait, you live in an area prone to large, violent, dangerous tornadoes, and you haven't left and moved somewhere safer?

Re:WTF! Are you serious??? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259754)

You mean on planet earth? Because EF3+ tornado's have occurred on every continent. Also the same system could be used for mudslides, forest fires, flash floods, tsunami's, etc.

Re:WTF! Are you serious??? (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259728)

Yes, if you are in tornado alley, this might be useful.

I am not. So my ratio of actual emergencies to annoying tests is somewhere around 1:1000.

I don't care if it's 'only' 20 cents. I don't care if it's free. I don't care if THEY pay ME 20 cents for every message.

This is an idea so horribly annoying, I'm surprised it hasn't been done sooner.

Oh, and in the 12 years I've been living the Massachusetts, the 2 times there was an actual emergency broadcast that was not a test, both were complete duds. Of the type, "Snow-mageddon is upon us! Make peace with your deity of choice and prepare to meet thy doom." Followed by clear skies and no snow.

I have deep, throbbing hatred for anyone who helps this system come to pass, and a strong dislike to anyone who thinks this is a good idea.

The only way anything like this should be legal if it is strictly opt-in.

Seriously. This is a bad idea.

You mean... (4, Insightful)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258706)

Reverse 911 is fantastic. Just ask our neighboring town to the south that didn't use it when their water supply was contaminated. Yeah. My coworkers spent two days in the bathroom instead of 10 seconds reading a text.

Re:You mean... (5, Interesting)

hellkyng (1920978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258988)

Got to see it successfully used when my neighborhood had to be evacuated for a forest fire. They kept us up to date on about 15 - 30 minute intervals with evacuation news. It would have been amazing to have it available from the cell phone at the time. I remember running around everywhere preparing to get out of the house, it was irritating to have to drop what you were doing to find the traditional phone. Sounds like good stuff.

What is next? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258716)

Alcatel-Lucent will use the GPS chip in smart phones and estimate the speed at which these phones are traveling and also the text typing patterns and pauses and correlate it with the zigs and zags of the GPS trace. Once it determines it is the case of texting-while-driving it will automatically call 9-1-1 and have an ambul^H^H^H^H^H mortuary van following the car to scrape the remains of the driver off the road.

Re:What is next? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258792)

"Alcatel-Lucent will use the GPS chip in smart phones and estimate the speed at which these phones are traveling and also the text typing patterns and pauses and correlate it with the zigs and zags of the GPS trace. Once it determines it is the case of texting-while-driving it will automatically call 9-1-1 and have an ambul^H^H^H^H^H mortuary van following the car to scrape the remains of the driver off the road."

Err....but what if it is one of the passangers that is doing the texting while in the car?

Nothing illegal about that is there?

Re:What is next? (0)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259048)

They will probably try to make that illegal as well. /s After all drinking while driving is illegal and so is drinking while being a passenger /s
Big Gov will always try to find a way to control anything they can, even if its not needed and especially when its not wanted.

Re:What is next? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259292)

Not with GPS's accuracy, they won't.

Uh, would someone care to explain... (5, Informative)

goobenet (756437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258756)

You guys do realize that EBS (Emergency Broadcast System) was replaced by EAS in 1997, and is now being replaced by CAP (Common Alerting Protocol)... Guess nobody does pay attention to them when they blast em out of the radio or TV... The reason it *CAN* soon go to mobile devices is because CAP is an IP based distribution system instead of an "over the air" distribution system.

Re:Uh, would someone care to explain... (3, Insightful)

will3477 (705414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258920)

It might help if they didn't still use Emergency Broadcast System during the required weekly tests. If that's the name they use, I don't think its that outrageous to still call it that.

Re:Uh, would someone care to explain... (1)

surgen (1145449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259690)

They actually use the EAS system for weekly tests, what they call it is a different matter. Not that its a big deal though, even after spending a year as a radio station engineer I still use "emergency broadcast" and "emergency alert" interchangeably.

Re:Uh, would someone care to explain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259090)

You guys do realize that EBS (Emergency Broadcast System) was replaced by EAS in 1997, and is now being replaced by CAP (Common Alerting Protocol)...

Who cares what they call it now? It was EBS for decades; the new systems are exactly the same as far as people are concerned (unless you happen to work in either broadcast journalism or emergency preparedness.)

I still "dial" VOIP calls, even though I've never owned a rotary phone in my life.

Re:Uh, would someone care to explain... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259116)

The reason it *CAN* soon go to mobile devices is because CAP is an IP based distribution system instead of an "over the air" distribution system.

Does it support IPv6?

Re:Uh, would someone care to explain... (1)

s122604 (1018036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259506)

Is that why the new alert sound is reminiscent of an analog modem?

I've wondered about that, but not enough to actually look into it

I guess our days are numbered as hams... (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258782)

...because unlike the mobile phone network we require a huge infrastructure, high maintenance costs and the careful coordination of government and industry.

oh, wait...

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34258866)

Band plans and repeaters are about as complicated as they get. :)

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34258886)

The trouble is the network of radio fanboys is not evenly distributed nor is it growing in population. Most hams out there are old timers. Not something the community is going to lean on in a few decades.

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (1)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259160)

It would be cool if you could use a ham radio to link computers together. Hamnet.
If it caught on you could say bye to your ISP.
I know nothing of ham radio but im thinking the bandwidth would probably suck, or else someone would have come out with this already. But like i said I no nada about it.
Any Ham radio guys/gals out there want to share if they think it could work???

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259334)

Not only could it work -- it was done long long ago.

Ham have packet radio, Slow-scan TV, even their own satellites.

Bandwidth is an issue give the speeds of modern commercial networks, but it was done without any money or commercial interest.

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259468)

It would be cool if you could use a ham radio to link computers together. Hamnet.
If it caught on you could say bye to your ISP.
I know nothing of ham radio but im thinking the bandwidth would probably suck, or else someone would have come out with this already. But like i said I no nada about it.
Any Ham radio guys/gals out there want to share if they think it could work???

you mean like amprnet? we've had the 44 /8 subnet since the 1970s for this very purpose :p

(and yes it's too slow for www at any normal bandwidth (usually 1200 or 9600 baud))

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (1)

trapnest (1608791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259686)

Good enough for IRC. I've always wanted to get a packet radio up between a few houses in tampa bay but I've never had the money for it.

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (1)

Christian Marks (1932350) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259248)

Listen, I'd formulate a cogent reply to this if I weren't busy fulminating against national health care on 70cm from my wheelchair and deathbed.

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259348)

Two one-line attacks on hams in the thread? Elmers aren't like priests, there's no need to be afraid... :-)

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259774)

have they gotten rid of those stupid assed morse code reqs yet? i want to get my general some time before i die, but i can't be bothered to learn something i'll never use....

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (1)

s122604 (1018036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259466)

Wheelchair? From the hamventions I've been to, the current technology seems to be the rascal/hoveround, payed for by medicare of course...

Very few people probably get what you are referring to, but I hear you brother

The crotchety old fart, angry at the world, contingent of ham radio is indeed depressing

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259312)

not evenly distributed

If only there was some sort of certificate of competence enabling a rudimentary understanding of propagation and planning accordingly, this problem might be overcome ;-).

nor is it growing in population.

The trouble is that amateur radio has bad PR, so people think that even when it is completely false [southgatearc.org] .

Not something the community is going to lean on in a few decades.

If you lean on your mobile phone for disaster relief, you are already doing it wrong. I'm not suggesting that hams alone save the day, just that technical knowledge combined with systems requiring less working infrastructure is preferable during a disaster to idiots with sealed boxes. And we are foolish to increasingly rely on systems assuming an infinitely long period of geopolitical and natural stability.

Re:I guess our days are numbered as hams... (1)

Christian Marks (1932350) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259200)

We hams should be patrolling with our solar powered Heathkits and hot dogs ready to spring into action. And if that doesn't work, we can turn on our cellphones.

Oh! Please No! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258790)

The Emergency Broadcast System that interrupts TV programming in times of crisis... It will be similar to the TV alerts in that the text messages will be geographically targeted for areas where a tornado alert or major road closure, for example, is in effect."

I hope they peg down the geography a lot better. I'm sick of getting severe weather warnings from TV stations half a continent away.

I'm not looking forward to... (5, Funny)

Jamori (725303) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258802)

...random texts once a week waking me up at 3am indicating that:

"This is a test of the local emergency cell phone text system. This is only a test. If this had been an actual emergency, hopefully you haven't disabled text alerts in the middle of the night after receiving all our obnoxious tests."

Re:I'm not looking forward to... (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258904)

Once a week would be nice. Comcast does it once a day around here

Re:I'm not looking forward to... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259492)

Not only that, but they're kind enough to nearly blow my TV speakers up by blaring the warning signal about 100x louder than the channel audio. And they do it at 2 a.m., so they can be sure to wake the baby too.

Re:I'm not looking forward to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259744)

From my perspective I hate the damn test broadcasts for two reasons: 1) They always seem to interrupt a program at an interesting point, 2) when I grew up there was a much greater chance than there is today that it was not going to be a test but the actual end of the world as we knew it. So yeah, I hate the tests because every fucking time I hear one there's this little "Oh fuck" feeling and if I'm not in the room to see it I have to get up and go make sure that it is actually a test and not time to freak out.

defeated by DOT plans to jam cell signals? (3, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258830)

It sounds like this would be rendered largely moot by DOT plans to disable cell phones in cars [yahoo.com] .

Re:defeated by DOT plans to jam cell signals? (1)

fructose (948996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259238)

That's just while driving, at which time it would be covered by the radio. Now they can alert you to a tornado, or tsunami, or other horrible event while you are shopping, or at the beach, or anywhere else where you don't have a radio/TV. Sounds like a great idea to me.

Re:defeated by DOT plans to jam cell signals? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259364)

So will they also make it mandatory to listen to radio while driving?

Re:defeated by DOT plans to jam cell signals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259758)

Ironically, fiddling with the radio is apparently just as bad as using a mobile phone while driving.

Reverse 911? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34258838)

How is this any different from a mobile-specific reverse 911?

Bleh (1, Offtopic)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258846)

I'm hoping a channel for voice and text will go away, just give me a fast data connection and I'll pick my own services to use. In which case a better system for emergencies would be to disseminate EB messages over a couple different popular channels (facebook, skype, IM) and let people choose their own way to be contacted.

How will it work for travelling situations? (2, Interesting)

Jahws (1655357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258858)

I'm curious as to how they plan to implement it, especially because some people do a lot of moving across the country. Will it be able to warn people who are vacationing (or on business trips, etc) of emergency alerts where they are, as opposed to back at home? The article mentions "geographical targeting," but gives no indication of whether this will be done with real-time information as opposed to phone registration data.

Re:How will it work for travelling situations? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259066)

Cell Broadcast is part of the GSM standard, they might simply be using that. The operator can send a message to a cell which is relayed to every mobile logged into it, so if they send a message to all the cells covering a certain area then that's their emergency broadcast.

Wikipedia [slashdot.org]

Re:How will it work for travelling situations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259284)

And now I'll get the link right...

Wikipedia (again) [wikipedia.org]

Re:How will it work for travelling situations? (1)

lenzm (1238440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259368)

I'm guessing the alerts would be based on whatever cell you are in

Another fee for Canadians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34258874)

How long before this gets implemented in Canada and we get a EBS fee added onto our bills, along with the touch-tone dialling fee, 911 fee, etc.?

Re:Another fee for Canadians? (1)

trapnest (1608791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259748)

touch-tone dialling fee

Really?

CBSMS? (2, Interesting)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258938)

Umm, what? There's already cell broadcast messages already defined in the original GSM spec!
No need to reinvent the wheel!

These were planned to be used from emergency systems to location specific advertising. Anyone have any idea why it was never used for anything?

Re:CBSMS? (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259386)

In NZ, they're used to tell you what cell tower you're connected to. Unless you're on 3G like, oh, everyone.

This has been a test.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34258940)

I hope once a month I get a long tone in the middle of a phone call and a robotic voice telling me this has been a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

Re:This has been a test.... (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259382)

Even better, if you and your party are in different areas, only one of you may get the alert, and both of you will get a dropped call.

Consider how TiVos behave: kicking you out of your recording and into live TV and holding you there for the duration of the test. Sometimes repeatedly depending on the test being performed.

Now imagine it happening during a 911 call for rescue with a dying cell battery.

Of course, I don't think the cell networks could handle sending individual alerts to every handset. The network will need support for sending one godzillagram to which every cell will respond in a one-way party line. And a way to secure it so that a merry prankster can't issue his own with a rogue transmitter.

This Could Be Cool (0)

lordDallan (685707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258976)

I want to be in a large, busy area like a crowded mall or a large outdoor event when one of these alerts gets sent out. For some reason, the thought of seeing almost everyone stop and reach for their cell phone at the same time just seems incredibly cool to me.

Re:This Could Be Cool (2, Insightful)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259176)

I want to be in a large, busy area like a crowded mall or a large outdoor event when one of these alerts gets sent out. For some reason, the thought of seeing almost everyone stop and reach for their cell phone at the same time just seems incredibly cool to me.

How about when you're standing in the middle of a large outdoor event and 30,000 people all get a serious warning message all at once? Does panic stampede sounds as cool?

Re:This Could Be Cool (1)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259354)

Depends. Am I in the middle of the 30,000 people or at the edge.
What Kind of event is it. Is it a Heavy metal concert.
If I can choose Id like it to be a Rally for Narcolepsy patients.
"OMG RUN . Zzzz Zzzz Zzz. RUN Away...Zzzz Zzzz

Re:This Could Be Cool (1)

esquizoide (834082) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259514)

The idea of this system is to have information after a tragedy has occurred. So it actually is designed to calm people and stopped them from panicking. The idea is to keep them inform and connected when all other media has failed. Think of: blackouts, earthquakes, floodings.

Re:This Could Be Cool (1)

lordDallan (685707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259522)

I think that's a bogus scenario. If it's a really severe weather event people aren't going to be outside. If it's a nuclear war, I don't really care about the mob.

I was more thinking something like a systemwide test. And maybe you mean does a panicked stampede sound as cool? Or perhaps "panic stampede" is some kind of new band and in that case I haven't heard them and don't know how cool they sound.

Look forward to another charge on my bill (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258994)

It seems like there is some kind of a alert or another on television about 60% of the time (the other 40% being ads, when a life-saving warning is obviously impossible).

Anyway, I can't say my watching experience is enhanced a week later, when I sit down to peruse the TiVo.

Yes, I can see that it is raining outside.

I like the idea (4, Interesting)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258996)

I work indirectly for the Civil Defense in my state (disaster control). And I can say that the ability to be able to warn all people in a given area that they must seek shelter or where to seek help after a disaster are priceless.

pool (3, Interesting)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259028)

How long before the access control to this is subverted and nationwide penis enhancement texts start arriving?

I'll take 3 weeks after deployment.

Already get these (3, Interesting)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259106)

After the VA Tech shootings, a lot of college campuses implemented an emergency alert system that includes text messages to students and employees. My campus is one of them. The system is not geographically-aware but rather subscription-based, and so far all I've received are test messages (they announce the tests by email a few days in advance), sometimes synchronized with on-campus sirens. But it seems to work.

Re:Already get these (1)

Gammyte (1942224) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259370)

My campus also has an emergency alert system that is subscription based. I have yet to receive any texts, so I can't judge it's effectiveness, but I feel as if it does work on a smaller scale ramping it to a national level wouldn't be too terrible. Moral of the story: they should consider a subscription-based alert system.

Re:Already get these (1)

demiurg (108464) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259384)

I cannot really compare ETWS/PWS with simple messaging. While text message can be easily delayed by a few hours because of network load or other issues (and massive text messaging will result in a network load), ETWS/PWS was designed in such a way that the network will be able to deliver warning messages to all relevant subscribers reliably, efficiently and in timely manner.

Re:Already get these (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259708)

Our campus allows you to register a phone number and an email address, but messages sent to phones belonging to non-first-tier resellers such as Virgin Mobile etc., don't get through. I'm not sure who's to blame.

A government mandated EBS would apparently fix this problem as well as limit the broadcast to phones just in the vicinity of the emergency.

So do I sue the city, Apple, or AT&T (0)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259146)

when the asteroid hits my house?

Earthquake potential? (2, Interesting)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259224)

One of the common reasons that is given for having no earthquake alert system is that we can only predict an earth quake a matter of seconds in advance.

The idea of sending a text message to peoples cell phones, if done with some automated system, could potentially be used for this.

Though the question is how bogged down the cell networks would get, or if they'd have some sort of universal-packet where the cell-towers simply broadcast it to all phones, rather than targeting each phone individually.

Old (2, Informative)

tsa (15680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259244)

Oh how modern. We've had that here in Europe for years.

Is it based on tower proximity? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259246)

This is of course information that the cell companies have for any call (it is how they triangulate where a distress call comes from), and it would make the most sense for something like that. If they instead decided it by area code (or even area code + exchange prefix), it would be really quite useless since people tend to be mobile with their cell phones and likely wouldn't be interested in a disaster that is thousands of miles away at that moment.

Re:Is it based on tower proximity? (1)

trapnest (1608791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259794)

Your phone wouldn't matter at all It's simply a message sent to "all connected devices" from that cell. Think net send * OMG RUN

its called cell message broadcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259266)

and its been around for years, but nobody uses it. I think supporting it is compulsory for GSM phones but nobody ever seems to use it. Was originally intended to be used for this or to do traffic warnings.

When the Threat Level changes... (1, Funny)

jayveekay (735967) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259278)

They should change the background color on your phone to the new threat level. e.g. when the level changes from yellow to orange, your phone background becomes orange, immediately letting you know to take the appropriate action such as heading to Home Depot to stockpile duct tape and plastic sheeting. For extra credit the phone could provide you with directions to the nearest hardware store.

This scheme may conflict with *Amber* Alerts, however.

ETWS (3, Informative)

demiurg (108464) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259338)

This system is called ETWS (Earthquake Tsunami Warning System in Release-8 networks, i.e. LTE and PWS in Release-9. It is being pushed mainly by Japanese cellular operators (NTT DoCoMo, etc) and is probably used already in Japan.

NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259428)

DO NOT WANT

We have this in Hawaii (1)

sgtron (35704) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259450)

About a month or two ago (maybe longer,i lose track) a company called "Nixie" put in service (with the city and county of Honolulu) a text and/or email alert service.

Story from local paper: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/global/story.asp?s=12921149 [hawaiinewsnow.com]

A typical "Emergency tweet" (4, Funny)

goffster (1104287) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259508)

OMG! A toradno iz comin. proced 2 teh nearest evacushun sheltr

Older than dirt! (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259554)

I heard about this idea back in *1989* from a guy that was trying to get tornado warnings onto cell phones. The cell sites in the effected area are usually pretty well known, and if those sites are linked to phones, the phones gets a message. Easy, obvious, incredibly useful, SAVES LIVES!

And here we are still talking about implementing it 20+ years later!

Text Speak (1)

Master Moose (1243274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259634)

I can see overloaded phone lines as everyone will be calling them back to figure out what they were actually saying.

"Hi I got your text, GT OT VCANO ERPT N 15 MIN TKE UR FAM N PTZ 2 HGHR GRND"

Tornado Sirens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34259664)

Will we be able to choose custom ring tones for these alerts? I've got a few songs in mind already...

Tornado - "You Spin Me Round" by Dead or Alive
Earthquake - "Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC
Flash Flooding - "Waterfalls" by TLC
Atom Bomb - "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus

I'm working on this.. (5, Informative)

mtxmorph (669251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259688)

I'm actually working on the handset side of this, so I can answer some of the questions people have about it.

It's really not that complicated of a system. It uses Cell Broadcast Services (CBS) which are part of the existing 3GPP and 3GPP2 standards. Some of you may have seen CBS applications in your phones, but they're typically not used in the U.S. CBS is, as its name implies, a broadcast service.. so obviously it's one-way only. If your phone isn't "subscribed" to the particular message identifier (a kind of topic or category), or your phone isn't on when the message is broadcast, you'll miss it. The system has different classifications for messages, from nationwide alerts, to local alerts (like hurricanes), to AMBER alerts. There can't really be any way for operators to charge for broadcast messages, any more than they can charge for other broadcast resources like paging channels, so I think the only way your bill would be affected would be if they do some blanket 10 cent "government" fee for everyone... By the way, the reason they are using CBS is because it does not place a strain on the network, like sending millions of SMS messages at once would (that's important in a disaster situation when people might be overloading the network).

The special handling on the handset side is to take some specific actions when an emergency message is received.. it has to play a special tone and vibration, among other things. You can opt-out of pretty much all messages, so don't get too worried about being woken up in the middle of the night for AMBER alerts (well, unless you want to receive them). The system supports a monthly test message, but you wouldn't be opted-in to those by default.

The nature of the cell network allows operators to broadcast the messages to specific cells, so you are not going to get alerts for things happening elsewhere in the country. But the design also allows for national (presidential-level) distribution, so yes, in those cases, everybody would get the alert. The network-side of things is more interesting than the handset side, because of how different levels of the government need to be able to send alerts, and this is mostly what the article talks about (although it's short on details).

If you have other questions, reply and I can try to answer them.

Only for real emergencies please (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#34259776)

I can imagine this being useful for tornado warnings, but please not for closed roads.

Also there are messages that will show up on your screen and not as just 'incoming message'. At least I was able to send/receive those several years ago when using my PC and the Nokia software.

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