NYC unveils PLAN emergency alert system

The site of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, New York City will be the first city in the United States to launch a public safety alert system that will send emergency alerts to enabled mobile devices.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the city will launch its Personalized Local Alerting Network (PLAN) before the end of 2011. PLAN will be a free service that will allow mobile customers with an enabled mobile device to receive geographically-targeted text messages to alert them to imminent threats to safety in their area.

Under the PLAN system, three types of emergency messages can be issued by authorized government officials: 1) alerts issued by the President; 2) alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life; and 3) Amber Alerts. Emergency messages will be limited to 90 characters or less, and participating carriers may allow subscribers to block specific types of alerts.

The FCC says that PLAN emergency alerts in New York will be available to 90% of subscribers of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon wireless services with PLAN-capable mobile devices by year’s end.

Read the FCC’s press release announcing New York City’s new PLAN system.