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County Joins Nation's First Test of New Text Alert System

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October 15, 2010

Local agencies are coordinating with the Office of Emergency Services to participate in the first test of the Commercial Mobile Alert System, or CMAS, a national system which uses new technology to automatically send text messages with emergency information to cell phones.

“The County is a leader in using mass notifications in disasters, so it is exciting for us to help develop the latest technology,” said Supervisor Greg Cox, District 1. “CMAS will allow us to reach more people with critical information in an emergency.”

Video: Alert system tested

Supervisor Cox was joined by Congresswoman Susan Davis and state and local officials Friday at the Office of Emergency Services to demonstrate how CMAS works. The County is participating in the pilot program in partnership with Sprint and the California Emergency Management Agency.

“We’ll test CMAS throughout October, giving more than 100 phones to partners including the Sheriff’s Department, CAL FIRE and local military, to provide results to state and federal officials,” said Ron Lane, Director of the Office of Emergency Services.

CMAS is different than Reverse 911 and AlertSanDiego, which can only reach landlines as well as cell numbers that have been registered by the user. CMAS doesn’t use a database of numbers; instead, it can send a text message to any phone that has the new technology and can target phones located within an area impacted by a disaster.

CMAS may be available for public use in about a year. Until the technology is available, residents are encouraged to register their cell phone numbers with AlertSanDiego at

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