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PLAN: The ‘Quantum Leap Forward’

By Doug Powers  •  May 10, 2011 04:09 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

It seems like whenever there’s a mass emergency of some sort, the first things that stop working properly are cell phones, but regardless — and like it or not — we’re all going to be on the PLAN:

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A new national alert system is set to begin in New York City that will alert the public to emergencies via cell phones.

It’s called the Personal Localized Alert Network or PLAN. Presidential and local emergency messages as well as Amber Alerts would appear on cell phones equipped with special chips and software.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the system would also warn about terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

“The lessons that were reinforced on 9/11 is the importance of getting clear and accurate information to the public during a crisis,” New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Verizon and AT&T, the nation’s largest cell phone carriers, are already on board. Consumers would be able to opt out of all but those presidential messages.
For now, the alerts are capable on certain high-end cell phones but starting next year, all cell phones will be required to have the chip that receives alerts.

By the end of the year, the new system will be in place in New York City and Washington and in cities around the country by the end of 2012.

Mayor Bloomberg is involved, so how this system is utilized in NYC will depend on his definition of an “emergency” situation…


New Yorkers will be far more likely to get a text like the one above instead of something a little more honest and useful, such as “Whoops, forgot to plow the roads again! Put chains on your tires!”

Bloomberg called PLAN a “quantum leap forward.” It’s no wonder we’re not further along as a civilization. When I was a kid, a “quantum leap forward” would have been something like travel at the speed of light, teleportation or even a cure for cancer — now it’s the ability of the government to send an unblockable text message blast that says “run for your lives!” That’s okay though, because I haven’t been fond of the term “leap forward” since Mao ruined it.

Judging from this New York Daily News online poll question, PLAN has a lower approval rating than Congress:


Somebody smells function creep.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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