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Emergency broadcast warnings to be sent to cellphones

November 18, 2010 |  8:49 am

Fire The Emergency Broadcast System – or something very similar – could be coming to more than just the couch potatoes and radio devotees.

French telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent has engineered a system that can send warning messages to cellphones in the event of a terrorist attack, major road accident, evacuation or natural disaster.

The “Broadcast Message Center” would allow government agencies to zap alerts to phones in the geographic area affected, whether across a few blocks or nationwide. For those with visual and hearing impairments, the texts would include vibrations and audio signals.

The system, which is expected to begin operating in early 2012, is in advanced testing stages. Sprint tried it out with the Califronia Emergency Management Agency in San Diego over the summer. A pilot run happened recently in Tampa, Fla.

Alcatel-Lucent also said that versions of the messaging system could be used by advertisers and interest groups looking for other marketing channels, companies seeking to get in touch with their mobile workforce or even service providers offering subscriber perks.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Emergency crews inspect the San Bruno neighborhood as dozens of homes sit smoldering hours after a 24-inch gas main exploded. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

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