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County to Test Nation's First Mass Mobile Alert System

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August 24, 2010

Imagine you are among thousands of people attending a Chargers game, unaware that a few miles away, your route home has just been shut down by a dangerous chemical spill. The County Office of Emergency Services is the first local agency in the nation to test new technology that could send mass text alerts in these types of emergency situations to notify people in specified areas.

”This expands our reach beyond reverse 911 and those who have registered their cell phone numbers with AlertSanDiego,” said Ron Lane, director of the County of San Diego Office of Emergency Services. “With this new system, we could reach people with potentially lifesaving information wherever they are, even those who are visiting our area.”

The Office of Emergency Services (OES) is working with Sprint and California’s Emergency Management Agency to test the technology, called the Commercial Mobile Alert System, or CMAS.

CMAS is a national program established by the Federal Communications Commission to provide emergency information from federal, state and local officials about disasters, terrorist threats and other imminent dangers.

The alerts will be sent over a secure interface to participating wireless providers, and then sent to cell phones as text messages. It will be able to reach hearing or vision-impaired users with vibration or audio cues.

OES will test the system in the fall, distributing 100 phones to fire agencies and other partners. The technology may be available for public use in about a year.

Until the technology is available, residents can receive cell phone alerts by registering their numbers with AlertSanDiego at

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