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.
The Broadcast Message Center is designed to help mobile phone companies comply with new federal rules outlined in the Federal Communication Commission's Commercial Mobile Alert System, the Urgent Communications journal reported. Under the new system, all phones would receive emergency alerts directly from the U.S. government about terrorist attacks or natural disasters, but users can opt out of receiving local warnings about weather, traffic accidents or Amber Alerts.
The Broadcast Message Center would act as a secure transfer center for messages to Americans' cell phones from government agencies like the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Each mobile phone company is expected to install two message exchange centers for redundancy, Alcatel-Lucent Product Messaging Manager Jay Bhatt told Connected Planet. The first messages will be in text form, but eventually the networks will be able to deliver emergency information in multimedia formats as well, he said.
The system has already been tested in California and Florida, and is expected to be up and running in compliance with FCC guidelines by April 2012.