Sprint is now the first carrier in the U.S. to offer wireless emergency alerts. Customers can now opt to receive SMS alerts from the National Weather Service, the president, and state and local emergency operators based on their location.
The idea behind the service is that you could be notified if a serious storm (like a hurricane) was on the way, or if there was a threat to national or local security you may need to be aware of. Messages are sent based on your geographic location, so if you're in Flordia you won't hear about an earthquake in California that doesn't affect your safety.
Sprint is working along with FEMA to send the messages, with other carriers expected to do the same soon.
Some potential examples of these alerts include:
- An emergency message could be targeted to cell phones at a stadium event, informing attendees of where to go or what direction to drive following a nearby highway accident or chemical spill.
- Emergency information related to wildfires, mudslides, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes could be targeted to residents in specific neighborhoods or along routes where the danger is greatest.
- Students and faculty across a campus could be quickly informed when lockdown conditions are necessary because of a threat.
- If a suspicious package were reported in an airport, shopping mall or office complex, thousands could receive messages to move to a certain area until the threat was removed.
- Potential witnesses can learn of recently missing or abducted children in their immediate area.
Sprint's customers can currently access wireless emergency alerts on the following devices: HTC EVO Design 4G, HTC EVO 3D, Kyocera Brio, Kyocera Duracore, Kyocera DuraMax, Kyocera Milano, LG Marquee, Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch, Samsung Trender, Samsung Transform Ultra, Sanyo Innuendo by Kyocera and Sanyo Vero by Kyocera.
On devices that are capable of receiving the alerts, Sprint customers can activate the service by dialing ##CMAS# or ##2627#, and choosing to "enable the CMAS client" when prompted.
The wireless emergency alerts will be available in three categories – Presidential Alerts, Imminent Threats to Life and Property and AMBER Alerts. Wireless users can opt out of all message types with the exception of presidential alerts.
I keep up on tech news obsessively, but sometimes miss out on huge national news that might directly affect me personally. For instance, I think I was the last person in my city to know earlier this year Hurricane Irene was coming when the storm rocked the east coast. For people who aren't tuned in to local and national news regularly, an emergency service could be critical. Many emergency situations also pop out of nowhere, a reliable alert system that can reach phones and give instructions even when the power might be out could be invaluable.
What do you think? Anyone opting in to receive wireless emergency alerts from Sprint?