New digital public alert system
| 07.12.2006 | 06:26:46 | Views: 3410 | ID:
July 12 '06: The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a new digital national emergency warning system built by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management System will be up and running by next year. Aaron Walker, a spokesman for DHS told the AP, "Anything that can receive a text message will receive the alert. ... 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."
The system, designed much like the emergency warning system in place during the Cold War, though never used, is in its test pilot stages in suburban Virginia.The old emergency warning system, broadcast over television channels "solemnly intoned: 'This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test,'" the AP reported. The new system will interrupt cell phone conversations and internet activity. Only the president can order a national alert. Originally for a warning about impending nuclear attack, President Bush extended the alert to include alerts "for situations of war, terrorist attack, natural disaster or other hazards to public-safety and well being." The $5.5 million alert system will cost $1 million to maintain annually. The pilot program in Virginia is being expanded to include 23 public television networks across the US with the Gulf States and major metropolitan centers having the system installed respectively. Currently there are still efforts underway to coordinate the system with telephone networks and other digital infrastructure.
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