Late yesterday evening, the Federal Communications Commission has approved plans for a nationwide alert system utilizing SMS text messaging which will alert subcribers in case of emergencies such as a widescale attack, severe weather, natural disasters, or child abductions.
The plan has its roots in a 2006 Congress mandate that the FCC work together with the Department of Homeland Security, National Telecommunications and Infromation Association along with other government agencies to expand emergency notification capabilities using SMS text messaging.
The initiative is voluntary and does not require carriers to participate, though the four largest carriers in the US have made preliminary statements expressing a desire to join the program, while the new agency in charge of emergency text notification has yet to be named.
Once the agency is named and text alerts are drafted, the carriers that wish to participate will be given a timetable of 10 months from the initial opt-in request to conform to the FCC technical requirements for the alert system. Â Â Carriers also have the option of opting into the program itself, but opting out of receiving particular alerts.