Sacramento, Calif. – Aug. 24, 2010 – Today, the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) and Sprint (NYSE:S) announced that they are leading the nation in deploying the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) technology – a powerful public safety tool that allows emergency management officials to rapidly disseminate warnings and safety information via text alerts to wireless phones based on their specified locations.
As government officials and Sprint spearhead deployment of CMAS, they will create new opportunities to save lives and protect property on a local, state or national scale during natural disasters or emergency situations, such as terrorist attacks, wildfires, hurricanes and school shootings.
“California is proud to the lead the country in having the ability to instantly alert residents via their mobile phones to an emergency or disaster specific to their current location,” said California Emergency Management Agency Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen. “This technology, along with Sprint’s seasoned record of providing reliable wireless and network support during the state’s wildfires, floods and earthquakes, will prove a tremendous resource to the country’s public safety and emergency management community.”
The nation’s first CMAS pilot program will be conducted in San Diego County beginning in fall 2010 in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services. The technology will be tested across urban, suburban and rural areas, and includes the involvement of law enforcement agencies, local jurisdictions and other regional partners.
”Our agency was able to notify thousands of residents about evacuations during the 2007 wildfires,” said Ron Lane, director of the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services. “The new technology will expand our reach, allowing us to immediately and easily contact everyone in an impacted area, even if they are not residents of our county."
Federal agencies and wireless leaders make CMAS a reality
Today’s announcement marks a milestone in the implementation of the CMAS, a national program established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to the Warning, Alert and Response Act passed by Congress in 2006.
- The CMAS network will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to accept and aggregate alerts from the President of the United States, the National Weather Service (NWS) and state and local emergency operations centers.
- The alerts will be sent over a secure interface to Sprint and other participating wireless providers, and then sent to cell phones as text messages using the CMAS technology.
- In addition to imminent threats from state and local agencies, CMAS technology will enable alerts to Americans related to national emergencies, such as terrorist attacks and child abduction alerts.
CMAS technology is similar to emergency alerts currently broadcast on cable television or disseminated to citizens through calls to their wired phones. This new technology, however, will send emergency text messages to mobile phones with the added advantage of reaching any cell phone within a defined geographic area. That area could be as large as a county or city, or targeted to a smaller area in some instances. This enables flexible targeting of messages so they quickly reach the right people in well-defined areas. Text-based CMAS alerts will include a dedicated vibration cadence and audio attention signal for wireless customers with hearing or vision disabilities.