At first, we sorta thought those air raid sirens (you know, the ones that are freakin' loud enough to wake the dead) were enough of an "emergency alert" as it was, but consider this: they usually don't tell you the nature of the emergency or give you instructions on exactly how you're supposed to proceed. That's not the sirens' fault -- a mind-numbingly loud "whoop whoop" really doesn't have the bandwidth to reveal that kind of information to the human ear -- but now that SMS-capable phones are ubiquitous, it's time to smarten things up just a tad. The government's Emergency Alert System has had just such a plan in the works for a while now, and Sprint Nextel is becoming the first national carrier to trial a system capable of sending targeted, location based alerts when bad stuff goes down. The trial is taking place in scenic Contra Costa, California; no word on a national rollout, but if you find out about your next tornado, earthquake, or other scary sitch via text, your area have just gotten swept into the craze.

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Sprint Nextel first national to test emergency alerts