The FCC will announce a new plan today for a system that will send warnings of impending emergencies to people’s cell phones. Dubbed the Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN, get it?), the system will be able to send geographically targeted messages to people who are in the paths of tornadoes, hurricanes, or other disasters, as well as Amber Alerts and terrorist warnings, USA Today reports. Should you not want to receive the messages, you'll be able to opt out from all but one kind: presidential alerts.
“The traditional alerts on radio and TV are still important,” says FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, “but more and more, mobile devices are becoming essential. You have them with you.” Gencahwoski will announce the network at Ground Zero in New York today, accompanied by Michael Bloomberg and the head of FEMA. The plan is to bring PLAN to New York and Washington, DC, by December, and to the rest of the country by April 2012. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all agreed to help; consumers will need to check and see if their phones are equipped with the chip needed to get the software update that will enable the service. (Read more Federal Emergency Management Agency stories.)