SF Should Be Next for Cell Phone Emergency Alert System
There has been exciting news this week about the beginnings of a national and localized emergency alert system that combines cutting edge technology with government resources to keep people safe – the kind of Gov. 2.0 tool that Reset loves and that San Francisco should be next in adopting.
In New York City on Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg was joined by local and federal officials as well as leaders from law enforcement to announce the Personal Localized Alert Network (PLAN). PLAN will enable government authorities to work with first responders and cell phone companies to send targeted messages to cell phones in case of major public safety threats. This means in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster, essential information that could save lives will be disseminated directly to people in affected areas.
Earlier in the week, the Commercial Mobile Alert System was unveiled – a new national system in the works that would allow messages to be sent directly from the President in similar situations. According to an article in Wired the two systems will deliver “alerts issued by the President of the United States, alerts involving ‘imminent threats to safety of life,’ and Amber Alerts, which are designed to help find missing children.”
It makes sense that New York City and Washington D.C. should be first on the list given the threats facing those cities. But San Francisco shouldn’t be far behind.
San Francisco has the Alert SF Notification System in place that uses text messages and emails to keep residents informed in the case of an emergency. And if you haven’t yet signed up, you should click here to do so! But the new system being implemented in New York City relies on far more sophisticated and effective technology than the one currently being used in San Francisco.
Under the new system emergency messages will appear on the main screen of phones, not as a normal text message and will arrive with a distinct ring or vibration. Most importantly, the data is able to get through to phones even during situations when cell phones are jammed as often occurs during a major disaster or emergency. And the new technology can localize messages to specific geographic regions facing impending danger.
As Phil Ting wrote last month when calling for San Francisco to lobby FEMA for an Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, the City hasn’t always been able to take advantage of national programs that could bring tremendous benefits to our area. So City, State and Federal officials should be on the phones now with the Bay Area’s leading technology experts to ensure that San Francisco is the next major city to adopt a PLAN.
In San Francisco, our ingenuity with technology and the likelihood for a major earthquake to occur shouldn’t just make us a good fit for this new system - it should make us a leader.