Intrado announced a new service that would enable wireless operators to broadcast emergency alerts to their subscribers. The service will leverage technology developed by cell-broadcast solutions vendor one2many. Deployments are expected to begin early next year, with service beginning in 2012. The service will comply with FCC guidelines established in response to the Wireless Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act, which became law in 2006, according to Intrado.

The WARN Act established the framework for a nationwide, voluntary wireless emergency alert network that would issue presidential, imminent-threat, e.g., tornados, and AMBER alerts. Wireless carriers are not required to participate, but those that do are required to use systems that are compliant with standards established by the FCC, and to deliver the alerts to all subscribers in the affected area unless they have opted out.

Intrado decided to partner with one2many because it had proven technology, said Brian Davenport, vice president of product for Intrado.

“Almost everybody that builds this type of product will build it in a very similar way because there are standards that they have to build it to,” Davenport said. “The big question for us came down to whether the technology was proven and reliable, and how many customers actually had deployments where we could see the performance of the system. They clearly are the market leader.”

According to Davenport, one2many’s platform is the most-deployed solution of its kind in the world, with 80 installations in 30 countries, involving 50 wireless service providers.

Moving into the wireless emergency alerts arena was an easy leap for Intrado, which pioneered wireline emergency alerts when it introduced its first system more than a decade ago, said Mark Scott, the company’s vice president and general manager.

“This was the next logical step for us,” he said.

Scott added that Intrado’s “911 in reverse” products were unique in the early days because they leveraged the automatic location information, or ALI, databases maintained by wireline carriers.

“Unlike most of the other players in the emergency notification space is that we were able to use highly accurate 911 data, versus white-pages data, which only is 60-70 percent accurate,” Scott said. “We also used all of the numbers in the 911 database, so if someone had an unpublished number and a wildfire swept through their neighborhood, they wouldn’t be missed by the emergency notification process.”

Intrado had access to the ALI information because it often managed the database for the local exchange carrier. “We would extract the data, with the carrier’s permission, and in many cases the carrier rebranded and resold our product, which was a hosted service that we managed.”

The wireless emergency notification solution being developed with one2many will work the same way, according to Davenport, who said such an approach offers multiple benefits to operators, not the least of which is reduced cost.

“There are economies of scale for the carrier for sure, but also increased reliability, and more centralized control and monitoring of performance,” Davenport said. “There are a lot of advantages to the hosted-services model.”

Initially, the technology will let wireless operators broadcast alerts on a national or regional basis. Targeted areas can be as small as those served by a single cell site. “For example, if Homeland Security wanted to deploy a message about a national emergency, we would be able to do so on a prioritized basis through all wireless carriers across the country,” Davenport said.

Eventually, a geo-tagging capability will be added to the platform that will let carriers send targeted messages to subscribers based on their locations. However, no timetable has been established for adding this feature, Davenport said.