The Office of Emergency Management Will Test the Cell Phone Alert System in NYC


“Listening” by catasterist on Flickr

Is your phone making a strange noise? It may be the President calling! There is a city-wide test of mobile phone alert system on December 15th between 10am and 3pm, which is designed to alert of imminent threats, AMBER alerts, and Presidential messages.

The Commercial Mobile Alert System will “allow authorized government officials to send geographically targeted emergency alerts to enabled mobile devices on the AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon wireless networks” and will play a notification sound regardless of your phone’s ringtone or ringer level. Today, that system is being tested, and the Office of Emergency Management and FEMA will send up to six messages to phones that are within the New York City area. You can read more about the test on the official OEM press release.

What to expect during the test

Depending on the model of your phone, you may receive more than one alert message during the test. Each will clearly state that it is a test, with wording that is similar to “This is a test from NYC Office of Emergency Mgmt. Test Message 1. This is only a test.”

PLAN messages are not text messages. Alerts will not have to be opened like SMS text messages, but will “pop up” on the device’s screen. PLAN alerts are transmitted using a new technology that is separate and different from voice calls and SMS text messages. This new technology ensures that emergency alerts will not get stuck in highly congested user areas, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services.


The messages will be signaled by an audible alert, regardless of your current ringtone or volume settings.

The NYC CMAS message on an iPhone via @changecl0thez on Twitter

Did you receive the message, or did the alert noise surprise you? Leave a comment below!

Learn More

NYC OEM home page and official press release

Further information on CMAS from the FCC and info on the Personalized Local Alerting Network

Information on the alerts from AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

By December 15, 2011 — Updated: October 1, 2012 11:58pm

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