The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) could be a game changer for notifications, alerts, and warnings. CMAS is a program under FEMA's IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System)
through which cell carriers will deliver emergency messages for local, state, and federal authorities via cell broadcast. In effect, public safety officials would have ability to activate, first, text messages to cell phones within a specific geographic area. Later, voice messaging would be added. CMAS would be used for by the feds for Presidential messages, and could be used by locals for imminent threats and Amber Alerts. Cell carriers aren't required to participate in CMAS, but most will. If they don't, an FCC rule requires them to let subscribers out of their contracts.
CMAS is to be fully deployed by 2012. Sprint beat the other carriers to the punch by announcing its first CMAS pilot this week. The pilot will be in San Diego County through a Sprint partnership with the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services and the California Emergency Management Agency. The pilot is scheduled to launch this fall.
Sprint customers in San Diego County won't automatically be able to receive the alerts, even when the pilot begins. Mobile devices will need technology embedded to receive the messages, and most devices don't have it yet. Regardless, announcement of the pilot is progress. We'll all be watching.
For more on the announcement, see the article in Government Technology here
All the best,