|First U.S. Emergency Alerts on Cell Phones By CellCast Communications and Einstein Wireless Prove Viable in Disasters or Terrorist Acts|
Tuesday August 15, 4:07 pm ET
Source: CellCast Communications
HOUSTON, -- Warnings of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, chemical explosions, wildfires or other life-threatening events can now be delivered over cell phones by federal, state and local entities. Houston-based CellCast Communications and Einstein Wireless, of Appleton, Wis., recently tested a cell broadcast system, in cooperation with a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) pilot program covering a group of states to demonstrate cell broadcast as a viable component of a national emergency alert system.
"It's about time to update the emergency alert process," said Paul Klein, Chief Operating Officer of CellCast Communications, which is supplying the technology to demonstrate that cell broadcast is feasible. "While public servants responsible for maintaining the process have done a good job with the tools they have, the system has remained fundamentally unchanged since the 1950s and needs to be enhanced with 21st century communications technology."
"Cell broadcasting is the quickest method to alert people of an approaching disaster and to direct toward safety," said Greg Selig, senior director of operations and engineering at Einstein Wireless. "We are proud to be the first wireless carrier to successfully conduct emergency broadcast trials and will continue to work toward delivering this critical service to the people of Wisconsin."
Cell broadcast uses a feature already built into most cell phones that enables a government entity to simultaneously send an emergency message to large numbers of cell phones, and only to those in the specific geographically threatened area. The alert message is transmitted over a portion of bandwidth that is minimally used in normal cell calling, therefore not subject to degradation of normal cell phone use during a public emergency situation.
In addition to FEMA, emergency management representatives from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office observed the cell broadcast demonstration.
"We commend FEMA for evaluating cell broadcast technology, which is already used in several countries, as part of America's next generation emergency alert system," said Tim Ayers, spokesman for Cellular Emergency Alert Systems Association, an international citizens group advocating use of mobile devices for public warnings. "The technology exists and simply awaits activation. It's time for federal, state and local entities to turn on the switch."
While cell broadcast technology is beginning to be tested in the United States, it is a proven commodity in other countries. In May 2005, South Korea became the first country to turn on a nationwide cell-based emergency system; and in September, the European Union will launch its commitment to cell broadcasting with an evacuation demonstration in Amsterdam.
CellCast Communications cell broadcast technology will be hosted and maintained by Westlin Corporation's secure on-line and near-line data storage facility. Located outside Houston, the facility is a former underground nuclear shelter, providing one of the most secure environments protected from natural disasters and terrorist acts.
For more information on cell broadcast, visit cellcastcorp.com or ceasa-int.com .