Feds working on national SMS alert system

Jul 12 2006 - 08:59 AM ET | SMS

The US Federal Government is updating the existing warning system to be savvy with SMS. The existing alert system currently covers broadcast TV channels and AM radio stations. By the end of next year it's possible that your phone will alert you to impending trouble and let you know how to get more information (because text messages are limited in size, the information will be brief). While consumers will be able to opt-out, the program will be opt-in by default.

"Anything that can receive a text message will receive the alert," said Walker, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is running the alert system for Homeland Security. "We find that the new digital system is more secure, it's faster and it enables us to reach a wide array of citizens and alert them to pending disasters."

Besides the SMS update, authorities are also looking to support cable TV channels and satellite radio.

In a related note, AMBER Alerts are currently available via SMS.