In many places, should the unthinkable happen and a serious emergency arise, citizens are alerted via the TV and radio. How 20th century. New York, however, are going a little more modern, and adding gaming networks to the list.

There's currently a trial program in place in the state called "Empire 2.0", which is all about the government extending existing services and means of communication to 21st century outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

Of course, gaming consoles are included in that, and NY are in the process of testing - across Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network and the Wii's network - a means of distributing emergency warning messages across those platforms, so anyone with their console on (and TV or radio off) can be reached. NY residents note: they're not live testing yet, just doing some background stuff.

It's a good idea. I actually had the displeasure of hearing the "whoooop whoooop" of an emergency warning back in 2003, but I only heard it - and evacuated my house in time - because it was on both the radio and television. These days, I'd be far more likely to be on Xbox Live or the PSN.

Not that I live in NY, just saying...it's a good idea.

Interop: New York Tests Xbox-Based Alert System [IW, via Gizmodo]