County tests disaster alert text messaging system


By City News Service

A national disaster alert system — using text messaging to reach the public — is being tested in San Diego County, it was announced Friday.

The Commercial Mobile Alert System, or CMAS, doesn’t rely on a database of numbers. Under the new system, text messages may be sent to any cell phone

in a disaster area if the phone is equipped with the system-specific technology, according to the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services.

The test is being conducted by the OES, Sprint and the California Emergency Management Agency.

Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, and county Supervisor Greg Cox joined state and local emergency officials at the county OES headquarters in Kearny

Mesa this morning to demonstrate the technology.

“The county is a leader in using mass notifications in disasters, so it is exciting for us to help develop the latest technology,” Cox said. “CMAS will allow us to reach more people with critical information in an emergency.”

According to Ron Lane, director of the county OES, the test of the CMAS system will last until the end of the month.

More than 100 phones equipped with the technology were distributed to the Sheriff’s Department, Cal Fire and the local military for testing,

according to Lane. The results will be provided to state and federal officials.

Officials hope to have the CMAS system available to the public in about a year.

Until the new technology is available, San Diego County residents were encouraged to register their cell phones for the region’s AlertSanDiego emergency notification system at


The county also has a reverse 911 system in place capable of calling residents with information in the event of an emergency or disaster locally.