Officials in New York City today announced the Personal Localized Alerting Network, or PLAN, a free service that will allow customers with an enabled mobile device to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. This service will be available in New York City by the end of 2011.

PLAN ensures that emergency alerts will not get stalled by user congestion, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services. Authorized government officials can send messages, which participating wireless providers then push using their cell towers to enabled mobile devices in a targeted geographic area.

When PLAN is operational, customers in an area affected by an emergency who have a PLAN-capable mobile device will receive an alert of 90 characters or less. Consumers will receive three types of alerts from PLAN:

  1. Alerts issued by the president;
  2. Alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life; and
  3. Amber Alerts.

Participating carriers may allow subscribers to block all but Presidential alerts.

For more information on PLAN, visit