California fires: smart speakers and emergency alerts

Sean Donelan sean at
Thu Jul 26 20:08:14 UTC 2018

On Thu, 26 Jul 2018, valdis.kletnieks at wrote:
> Do those use a frequency band that's suitable for cellphones to monitor (antenna
> size, power, etc)? Because your best chance of getting my attention in an emergency
> is to make my phone start shrieking.

15 years ago (way back in 2003), one of the reasons the cellular industry 
gave for NOT having mobile alerts was everyone had a home landline phone.

The cellular industry argument was the best way of getting people's 
attention at home in an emergency using Reverse-911 to call all the 
phone numbers in the local exchange.  The cellular industry said mobile 
phone alerts were unneccessary and impractical because they wouldn't know 
where the cell phone was.

Fast forward to today. How many people would answer (or still have) 
their home landline phones if the local emergency service called in the 
middle of the night with an emergency message?  How many people have moved 
around the country, and still have a cellular phone number from several 
cities ago?

Now my mobile phone gets emergency alerts based on the phone's current 
location, not the telephone number exchange from four cities ago.

> (For what it's worth, I actually did get an Amber Alert on my phone last night, and
> a phone-based weather alert as well)

If the cellular industry had successfully avoided mobile emergency alerts 
15 years ago, because "everyone" had a landline phone, you might not have 
gotten an alert last night.  Those where minor things, but there may be a 
big thing in the future. Silicon Valley loves to talk about "disrupting" 
things, but not about consequence of that disruption. Smart speakers are 
great, but no more am/fm radios for emergencies.  Smart TVs are great, but 
no more cable/antenna for emergencies. Cell phones are great, but no more 
landline phones at home.

Although, I do admit, I turned off Amber alerts on my cell phone a long 
time ago because NCMEC always seemed to send them early in the morning 
while I'm sleeping.


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