Virtual world to receive real world terror alerts

Virtual world terrorist attacks are nothing new to people who spend time playing video games but, for those living in the state of New York, video game systems could now be used to disseminate warnings about real terrorist threats as well.

A plan is currently being tested by state authorities to allow the Emergency Management Office to issue alerts over online gaming networks as well as through regular channels.

The goal of the program, New York State Deputy CIO Rico Singleton said, is to alert young residents who spend more time playing video games than watching television or listening to the radio of potentially deadly attacks.

Under the state's plan, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo would allow authorities to tap into their video game networks to broadcast warnings about terrorist threats, including bioterrorist attacks.

The plan is currently only in the testing phase, Singleton said while speaking at the Interop technology conference in New York City.

The new program is part of New York's Empire 2.0 program, which aims to make the state's government more transparent, participatory and collaborative.

Singleton said that the world is increasingly becoming Web 2.0 integrated and that the government needs to take part in that movement to ensure the safety of its citizens.