Police could send messages to peoples' mobile phones within 30 seconds of an explosion in Manchester city centre.
Businesses are being asked to sign up to the new scheme
It is part of a system set up to evacuate the area quickly in the event of major incidents - such as bombs, gas and chemical leaks, fires and floods.
Messages would also be sent to personal computers and pagers under the Manchester Priority Alert Scheme.
In 1996, a large part of the city centre near the Arndale shopping centre was destroyed by an IRA bomb.
The city centre has now been split into 29 zones with evacuation procedures developed for each area.
Businesses are now being asked to sign up to the scheme.
Manchester City Council leader, Richard Leese, welcomed the plans, saying: "The zoning and new communications scheme will enable large businesses, small companies and residents to have access to information regarding events and incidents in the city centre.
"We all share the aim of ensuring that any incident has a minimal effect on the economic and social wellbeing of city centre businesses, residents and visitors."
Chief Superintendent Justine Curran, responsible for city centre policing at Greater Manchester Police, said: "We have done everything possible to provide clear advice and information to allow businesses to provided for safety of staff should the need arise to evacuate part or indeed the whole of the city centre."