Wireless Text is Logical Basis for an Emergency info System

[Commentary] Despite 9/11, the wreckage of Katrina and the messy evacuation of Houston, this nation still has no way to use the most effective communication system in history to get information during disasters to the people who need it. Wireless networks saturate just about every populated area of the country. The signals reach nearly 200 million cellphones and wireless e-mail gadgets. Even when the networks become jammed and can't handle voice calls after use spikes during a catastrophe, the relatively few bytes of data in text messages usually get through. It's a no-brainer: Wireless text should be the basis for an emergency information system. Oddly enough, on the very day that cars sat for 15 hours on snarled highways leading out of Houston, two members of the U.S. Senate -- Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb. -- introduced a bill called The Warning, Alerts and Response Network Act, or WARN Act. It proposes to “establish a network for the transmission of alerts across a broad variety of media.” That includes cellphones, BlackBerrys and -- for towns with no cell coverage -- sirens. Missed the news of that bill? Don't feel bad. It got less publicity than that day's shooting of a black bear in a carport near Juneau, Alaska. Which, unfortunately, may reflect the bill's chances of passage. A somewhat similar bill introduced in 2003 never got anywhere. If this one fizzles, too, political leaders should be ashamed.

See also:
* Text Hackers Could Jam Cellphones, a Paper Says
Malicious hackers could take down cellular networks in large cities by inundating their popular text-messaging services with the equivalent of spam, said computer security researchers, who will announce the findings of their research today.
[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: John Schwartz]
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