A system similar to the Emergency Broadcast System that interrupts your television programming to let you know of a nearby tornado or other trouble could be coming to your cell phone. Tested already in Florida and California, the system is expected to be rolled out in early 2012. It would -- for the time being -- send geographically-targeted text messages for local, state and national emergencies.

The communications company Alcatel-Lucent announced Tuesday that it's creating a Broadcast Message Center that will allow government agencies to send cell phone users specific information in the event of a local, state or national emergency. It will be similar to the TV alerts in that the text messages will be geographically targeted for areas where a tornado alert or major road closure, for example, is in effect.

The Broadcast Message Center is designed to help mobile phone companies comply with new federal rules outlined in the Federal Communication Commission's Commercial Mobile Alert System, the Urgent Communications journal reported. Under the new system, all phones would receive emergency alerts directly from the U.S. government about terrorist attacks or natural disasters, but users can opt out of receiving local warnings about weather, traffic accidents or Amber Alerts.

The Broadcast Message Center would act as a secure transfer center for messages to Americans' cell phones from government agencies like the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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