It's always great when we can catch up with China, isn't it? After all, China used SMS alerts to warn citizens over Typhoon Kaemi in 2006.
The plan stems from the Warning Alert and Response Network Act, a 2006 federal law that requires upgrades to the emergency alert system. The act requires the Federal Communications Commission to develop ways to alert the public about emergencies.
“The ability to deliver accurate and timely warnings and alerts through cellphones and other mobile services is an important next step in our efforts to help ensure that the American public has the information they need to take action to protect themselves and their families prior to, and during, disasters and other emergencies,” the commission chairman, Kevin J. Martin, said after the plan was approved.
Of course, we realize that the delay was not due to tech, but to regulation. At any rate, don't expect this service to hit before 2010. And don't worry: you can opt-out if you want.