As we constantly say at FEMA, having an emergency communications plan is one of the most important things people can do to be prepared for disasters. And this morning, Administrator Fugate will join several of our partners in emergency communications at an event in New York City to announce a new tool that will enhance federal, state and local emergency communications plans with the public – the Personal Localized Alerting Network, or more appropriately, PLAN.
PLAN is a technology developed by FEMA that will allow any customers of participating wireless carriers to turn their mobile phones into personal alert systems. What’s new about that? Well a few key things:
- First, these alerts will be geographically targeted, so people will receive them based on where they are when an emergency hits, as opposed to where they live. This is a much more practical and useful way of getting emergency information, when it matters most.
- Second, these alerts will be able to get through to phones, no matter how jammed nearby cell towers are.
- And third, they are completely free of charge and require no sign up. Wireless carriers voluntary choose to participate, and in doing so, provide the technology to new and existing customers. Customers whose phones include the new PLAN technology will have the alerts already activated on their phones, but can opt out of receiving them if they choose to do so.
At 11 a.m. EDT today, Administrator Fugate will join the FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the top executives of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon to announce that this new technology will be ready to go ahead of schedule in New York City and possibly other metro areas – by the end of this year.
It’s an exciting announcement and one that yet again demonstrates that FEMA is just part of the team, along with other federal agencies, the private sector, and many others, most importantly the public. We know there will be a lot of questions today and going forward about how this new technology will work so stay tuned to the blog for important information.
To get started, check out this fact sheet.
Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about PLAN.