Smartphone emergency alerts could soon include links to pictures and maps

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NEW YORK — The FCC is poised Thursday to allow smartphone emergency alerts to include links to pictures and maps.

The agency will vote on that and other new rules for the four-year-old wireless emergency alert program, which allows authorities to ping phones about severe weather, missing children and other dangers.

Last week, millions of New Yorkers received a text alert seeking information on suspected bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami.

That alert, however, didn’t include a photo of Rahami. Instead, it told people to look to other media for one.

It’s not clear if the agency will go a step further and also allow alerts to include embedded images — not just links to them.

In a report last November, the FCC said multimedia-based alerts would be useful. But it asked for more information about how much data would be needed to send such alerts, and whether those alerts would slow the delivery of messages or drain battery life.

The FCC would not comment this week about its upcoming vote. But chairman Tom Wheeler said in a blog post earlier this month that the proposals would allow authorities to link to pictures and phone numbers in Amber alerts.

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