New York Will Be the First City in the Country to Text Emergency Alerts

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stands with dignitaries and family of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks at news conference at Ground Zero following the announcement of the death of al Qaeda founder and leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 in New York City. U.S. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a late night address to the nation from the White House in Washington on May 1. The mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was killed in an American military operation at a compound in Pakistan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Photo: Spencer Platt/2011 Getty Images

This morning at Ground Zero, Mayor Bloomberg is expected to unveil a text-alert system called "Personal Localized Alerting Network" (or "PLAN") to keep New Yorkers abreast of everything from snowmageddons to terrorists threats. Unlike NotifyNYC, the new system is automatic. Participation is free and alerts include warnings from President Obama, messages about immediate safety threats, and amber alerts. It will be up-and-running here and in D.C. by the end of the year, and expand nationwide in mid-2012. Cellphone companies can let you block some messages, but presidential texts must go through. Phones need to have a special chip to be compatible with the new system, but manufacturers are required to add them to new devices by next year. Guess that means people who can't afford a newer model cellphone should just start freaking out when everyone else's goes off.

NYC Unveils First-in-Nation Emergency Text Alert System [NBC New York]