Wireless devices to get emergency alerts

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We interrupt your cell phone call with this important announcement: The government will soon be sending warnings of national emergencies on wireless phones, websites and hand-held computers. The21st-century technologies will carry warnings of natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The Homeland Security Department in United States, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, expects to have the system working by the end of next year. Though still in its pilot stages, the system is being demonstrated at a public television station in suburban Virginia.

The Association of Public Television Stations is partnering with FEMA to transmit the alerts to receiving networks ranging from wireless devices, cable TV channels and satellite radio to traditional broadcast outlets. Anything that can receive a text message will receive the alert. This has some advantages like, the new digital system is more secure, it`s faster, and it enables to reach a wide array of citizens and alert them to pending disasters. Only the president can order a national emergency alert. The system was initially designed to warn Americans of a nuclear attack. But President Bush last month ordered Homeland Security to extend the alert “for situations of war, terrorist attack, natural disaster or other hazards to public safety and well-being.”

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