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US gets disaster warnings by SMS

What do people do during disasters? Turn to their mobiles, of course. The Federal Communications Commission has adopted a plan that will see mobile networks used to transmit alerts during disasters or emergencies.

The system, called the Commercial Mobile Alert Systems, will see texts sent to mobile users including, presidential alerts, imminent threat alerts and child abduction alerts and possibly in the future, video and audio messages. The system will also be set up to deliver the messages to the blind and deaf.

There are two questions here: during disasters, will the network hold up? Anyone who was in London during the 7/7 bombings will attest how impossible it was to use the network for calls, texts or anything else. So does that mean there will be a priority system set up to ensure these messages get through? And secondly, the system delivering presidential alerts. During a crisis, surely the last thing people want to see is a George Bush’s gurning mug on their mobiles?

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